New York School of Business Design Creates an Open Oasis in the Middle of a Bustling Chinese City

Architecture firm Studio Link-Arc was commissioned to design the Nanshan Foreign Language School (NFLS) in Shenzhen, China, a primary and secondary school campus that doubles as an open oasis in the midst of a highly urbanized area. Photo courtesy Shengliang Su

Architecture firm Studio Link-Arc was commissioned to design the Nanshan Foreign Language School (NFLS) in Shenzhen, China, a primary and secondary school campus that doubles as an open oasis in the midst of a highly urbanized area.

Located in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen, the 54,000 m2 (177,000 square feet) The campus represents the final piece of a decade-long redevelopment process that has seen a condensed urban village transformed into a contemporary vertical city. Surrounded by high density residential development and commercial towers, the main challenge of the project was to regenerate an urban condition shattered by contemporary development.

The NFLS campus is designed as a vast horizontal garden that contrasts with the dense, vertical urban environment it serves. The school intentionally breaks the distinction between a building and an open space to create a linear hybrid with enclosed spaces, semi-enclosed areas and open green spaces. Its low-rise composition allows the school to create an open oasis within a densely populated residential community and allows students to move seamlessly between indoors and outdoors.

In order to further connect the educational spaces to the outdoors, the linear classroom bars are staggered in sections. Link-Arc conducted numerous design studies to optimize the building’s response to Shenzhen’s hot and humid climate. The staggered organization of the classroom bars allows each room access to light, while the layout of the single-load classroom promotes natural ventilation.

The treatment of the building facade also serves to maximize the climate response of the building. The north facades are defined by high performance glass and operable windows. East-facing facades feature architectural shading devices that minimize solar heat gain. The south and west facing areas incorporate shading elements and perforated aluminum screens.

Thanks to these design and technology strategies, the NFLS project was the first compulsory school project in southern China to receive three-star certification from the Green Building Evaluation Label (GBEL). Administered by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People’s Republic of China (MOHURD), GBEL is a green building certification program that evaluates projects based on six categories: land, energy, water, resource efficiency /materials, indoor environmental quality, and operational management.

Abdul J. Gaspar