Located beside an ancient village and a natural lake in Tongjiawan, Zhuhai, RLP had a strong vision for the new United International College (UIC) campus: a sustainable, human-centric liberal arts college seamlessly integrated with the adjacent community and the site. Designed for 6,000 undergraduate and post-graduate students, the campus design honours the area’s history and natural environment while creating people-focused spatial experiences that inspire learning and togetherness.
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 straight through the campus, it 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.
Sustainability-wise, the narrow building blocks are encircled by open spaces and greenery, creating optimised daylighting and cross ventilation. On the west side, existing trees provide natural shading from the low-angle sun, while the lake on the east side reduces air temperatures in the summer from evaporative cooling.
The layout of the campus streets was made similar to the town, strengthening the connection to the old town and elongating the overall space. The back-of-house facilities are situated under major event spaces and the student street to reduce the visual volume, while all campus structures are three- to four-storey low-rise buildings placed along contour lines on the flatter part of the site, creating a myriad of semi-open courtyard spaces where students can gather and socialise, sometimes at student concerts under the stars.