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ROLLERCOASTERING THROUGH TRADITION

by Michele Koh Morollo on Aug 12, 2014 in Architecture
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Interval Architects changes the template for the Chinese public school square with a modern, edgy and utilitarian pavilion called Rollercoaster

Public schools in China are usually conservative with regards to the way they use outdoor space. The norm is for most large courtyards or outdoor areas in Chinese public schools to be anchored by monuments of famous national heroes or athletes, or perhaps dominated by a globe-like sculpture. Oscar Ko and Gu Yundan of Beijing practice Interval Architects decided that they would break the mould with Rollercoaster — an ergonomic, pedestrian friendly, 1,200 sq-m sculptural pavilion in the tranquil outdoor central square of Beijing Huangzhuang Vocational School, one the best vocational schools in Beijing.

"Chinese public schools typically have a lot of public spaces. But most of them are vast open areas that are under-defined and can hardly be used by students and teachers," says Ko. "So we wanted to create an efficient public space. The Rollercoaster project presented a new attitude and a new way of activating a public space in Chinese public schools. It redefines the use of an existing public space on the central square of the campus."

Before the Rollercoaster came along, the central square of the school was occupied by a single monumental sculpture placed on a huge pedestal of the traditional variety. Ko and Gu realised that this created a lack of a useful, welcoming space for students to congregate or interact. "What a school really needs is not a monument in the centre of the campus, but a humanistic and functional gathering space for students and an event space for school activities," says Gu.

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