In the outskirts of Shanghai where apple orchards flourished in abundance is the site for a training centre for China-registered accountants. Preserving apple trees on the site edges to retain the memory of the site, the design intent was to create a contemporary architecture that reflected the times yet was rooted in traditional aesthetics and culture.
The site design is carved out in the form of a square inscribed within a circle, reflecting the ancient theory that “heaven is round and earth is square”. This form is drawn from the traditional Chinese cash coin, to symbolise the nature of the discipline studied within the campus grounds.
There are three zones of space: the first is a semi-public recreational zone aligned to the fronting canal; the second is the academic zone housed in the square; the third is aligned to a meandering creek behind the site containing staff and student residences.
The spatial arrangement is sequential; one enters through the moongate into a courtyard designed in the language of a Chinese garden. The courtyard is a large pool that serves as a heat sink to absorb the day’s heat. Other buildings are inspired by the Chinese garden – the library is a metaphor for the lotus, the student lounge the swimming carp and the auditorium and lecture halls like boulders or floating lanterns floating down the river.
The entrance lobby is designed as a formal space of institutional character. The floor is paved in granite in the pattern of the Chinese abacus, the traditional instrument of the accounting profession. By the reception counter is a contemporary Chinese screen that shields the entrance to the administrative wing.
Note: Project designed by Wong Chiu Man for Nikken Sekkei International