As suggested by its name, Wenzhou, the site of this project, is a city with a mild climate. Therefore, is it possible to make the following assumption: An intimate human-nature relationship, namely outdoor living, encouraged by Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, is more likely to be realized in Wenzhou than in the hot South Asia? In this design, climate becomes the starting point.
In order to reach the goal of integrating architecture and environment, we first organized the exchange center with mixed programs into a complex of eight buildings, housing a large auditorium, classrooms, a library, a guest house for visiting scholars, a student center, students’ dormitories (two blocks), and an administrative office respectively. Breaking away from the typical enclosed architecture, we then designed each building with an umbrella-inspired section with four layers of spaces from the center to the edge: the central courtyard, outdoor; the air-conditioned area, indoor; the veranda, semi-indoor; and under the eaves, semi-outdoor. Under different weather conditions, teachers and students can choose the most appropriate space for their learning, communications, or other activities. The large overhanging eaves (up to 10 meters) between two buildings form a large outdoor hall, making public activities such as concerts or sports possible. Maybe one could consider that we are inviting the teachers and students of Wenzhou Medical University to experience a lifestyle that blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, which hopefully makes them to be more appreciative of their geographical location.
In terms of structure, we adopted the concrete frame system that is commonly used in China, and achieved deep overhanging eaves through pre-stressing. Once again, putting our design focus on space.