Surrounded by the lush green hills and terraced fields in the Longtan district, Sanhe Elementary School is situated by the mountain in Taoyuan City. Extended from a low stone wall, the school building is a ‘U’ shaped plan, facing the valley.
The site for the new activity space is an empty lot on the western side of the school. It is 1.6 meters lower from the main school ground. The retaining wall on the eastern side of the site sliced the school ground into two parts, creating a limited and discontinuous path for everyday school activities. The existing boundary condition of the site provides very dynamic possibilities for new connections. Four Phoenix trees 1.6m above the retaining wall provide shade for a vibrant playground. The open ramped corridor on the northern end allows the students to run freely between floor levels.
The existing energy surrounding the site boundaries inspired us to create a project that can operate between everyday routine activities and a more inwardly focused space. It can operate as a place that welcomes people to join in spontaneously and freely and also for indoor/outdoor sports, classes, practices, performances and any other events to take place.
The design firstly cut into the four boundaries below the site. It utilizes the sculpted nature of concrete construction to respond to each of the surrounding boundary conditions individually. This generates a platform that encourages continuity and activities. On the southern boundary, a thick concrete wall extends and cuts into the landscape horizontally, holding up the weight of the ground. On the Eastern side, the wide stepping platforms opened up the borderline of the retaining wall, directing movement and circulation flow between the eastern and western sides of the site. This allows the energy from the playground area under the Phoenix trees to filter into the site. And at the same time it can used as a stage or seating inside. On the western side, the reinforced concrete construction has a series of cantilevered beams, set-back from the existing classrooms to create an open-corridor space that is slotted into the existing hallway creating interesting in-between spaces. The northern end “mimics” the adjacent sloped of the landscape. It expands horizontally into gentle steps, transitioning and softening the experience of a hard-edge boundary to become a space that can continue to open-up horizontally.
The upper steel canopy sloped from the west to the east. Utilizing the lightness of the steel board structure It brings forward the main directional axes of the roof construction, allowing people to see through the open activity space from different perspectives and at varying heights around the boundary. It opens up the playground area to transform into a fluid and multi-directional activities space within the landscape. The sloping steel roof structure also formally turns into a downward curvature from a straight-line, producing a hidden center to the overall architectural design system, and creates a greater sense of “stage” for events below.
The roof canopy gently covers over the activity space to met with columns risen from the ground, tying up all the fluctuating conditions within the surrounding environment and finally becomes the tightly knitted core for this new place.