Asked to provide master planning and full architectural services for the new United International College (UIC) campus, RLP devised a strong vision: a sustainable, human-centric liberal arts college located beside an ancient village and a natural lake in Tongjiawan, Zhuhai. Seamlessly integrated with both the site and the adjacent community, the campus design honours the area’s history and natural environment while creating people-focused spatial experiences that inspire learning and togetherness for the school’s 6,000 undergraduate and post-graduate students.
RLP’s architects had a lot of space to work with – the entire site is 244,940 sq. m., with total campus GFA of 267,410 sq. m. A broad greenbelt connects the campus to the town, while a green spine or “student street” connects the campus lanes and alleyways together, like the veins on a leaf. Running through the site, the street provides spaces for students, faculty and staff to socialise, study, collaborate, or otherwise spend time with each other, bringing together the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of this lively community.
The street facilitates movement and forms a linear pathway for the many functional areas – The Schools of Music and Visual Arts, laboratories, a library, lecture theatres, conference rooms, public facilities, sports facilities, academic blocks and performance venues. Each of these buildings has its own identity, yet harmoniously echoes with the others to create a balanced whole.
The design also established visual links across the campus – wide external balconies along the internal façade providing views of the courtyards, while link bridges and staircases are suspended and laid out so as to be not directly above each other. The Resource Centre is the hub and main focus of the development. Strategically located near the entrance for convenient access, the Centre appears to “float” on the lake. It was designed to be somewhat detached from the rest of the campus, taking advantage of the water effect to provide serenity for students conducting independent studies.