Haikou Jiangdong Huandao Experimental School / TAO – Trace Architecture Office

Architects: TAO – Trace Architecture Office
Area: 64700 m²
Year: 2022
Photographs: Hao Chen
Lead Architect: Li Hua
Design Team: Yu Liu, Xueshuang Leng, Langhuan Wang, Yakun Wang, Jiaqi Liu, Yuting Yang, Xinru Zhao, Wenjie Li, Ting Xu, Linyi Dai, Peiyi Liu, Yongyi Wu, Kai Gao, Ruoxin Li, Ziyuan Li, Wanyu Chen, Huiqing Gong, Yingli Liu, Xiang Li
Construction Agency: China Building Technique Group Co., Ltd.
Construction Drawing: IPPR(Hainan) Engineering Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Secondary Mep Design: LV Jianjun and Kcalin design group
Lighting Design: z design and planning
Landscape Consultant: LD-S Design
Construction: Hunan No.6 Engineering Co., Ltd.
Client: Hainan Huandao Industrial Development Co. Ltd.
City: Haikou
Country: China

Haikou Jiangdong Huandao Experimental School, designed by TAO (Trace Architecture Office), is located in Haikou, Hainan, China. The campus includes a high school, dormitory, and kindergarten, covering a total area of 64,700 square meters. The design emphasizes ecological harmony and incorporates flowing curves and vivid colors to inspire creativity. The architecture features a large floating roof, various shaded outdoor spaces, and an interconnected layout. The school integrates modern design with local cultural elements, providing a unique and exploratory educational environment.

Haikou jiangdong huandao experimental school / tao (trace architecture office)

Trace Architecture Office (TAO) has completed the Haikou Jiangdong Huandao Experimental School, located in Haikou, Hainan, China. The campus includes a high school and student dormitory for 48 high school classes, and a kindergarten for 18 classes, with a total floor area of 64,700 square meters. This project is TAO’s second educational endeavor in Haikou, exploring the relationship between education and architecture within the local context.

The project is situated in Jiangdong New District, on the east coast of Haikou, an area characterized by a long coastline and abundant landscape resources such as wetland parks and mangrove nature reserves. The overall planning emphasizes the fundamental role of ecology, creating a spatial pattern that harmoniously integrates urban and natural elements. The original site was an open wetland interspersed with water and green islands. The design envisions the campus as a miniature garden city, organically responding to its surroundings. Flowing curves resemble meandering rivers converging into various lakes, enclosing courtyards between buildings. The undulating terrain forms hills, providing continuous open spaces for outdoor group activities. Double-height columns evoke a deep forest, while the expansive roof resembles a floating cloud. The building seamlessly integrates with the surrounding countryside, green spaces, river, wetland, and ocean, becoming part of a unified whole.

The design incorporates free curves and vivid colors to echo the unique childlike innocence and playfulness, aiming to evoke children’s imagination and creativity, thus providing students with a unique school experience. For the high school, the goal was to move away from the “fishbone” layout typical of traditional school designs and break the stereotype. The “radial” plan, resembling a puddle spreading out from the center, creates a dynamic sequence of spaces and connects all programs through the shortest paths, achieving an efficient interconnection network.

The overall architectural form appears to be composed of freehand curves but is actually governed by precise geometric lines that balance sensibility and rationality, creating a free-flowing yet powerful spatial form. Various circular arcs generate numerous centripetal courtyards and arc-shaped inward spaces while forming flowing outdoor public areas, resulting in an architectural image without angles or corners. Indoor and outdoor spaces seamlessly flow into one another, creating inter-nested labyrinthine spaces where pathways circulate and directionality continuously changes. This design provides users with an exploratory and unique school experience.

A large “floating” roof spans several independent teaching blocks, creating ample shaded outdoor activity spaces for students. The building is elevated to open up the ground floor spaces, allowing for visual and physical continuity. This design provides shading and protection against wind and rain while facilitating natural ventilation, effectively responding to the local tropical climate. Bridges and ramps at various heights, appearing to defy gravity, weave through the suspended solid volumes and column forest. Along with the micro-topography landscape, they create a three-dimensional “garden of forking paths.”

The central zone, serving as the “heart” of the high school, includes a multi-purpose event hall, library, lecture hall, and other public spaces. This zone not only connects various functional areas such as teaching blocks, gymnasiums, the canteen, and offices across different floors but also acts as a cohesive area for extracurricular activities and social interaction. This setup offers students a variety of everyday experiences beyond attending classes. The suspended blue cube and red cylinder volumes correspond to the multi-purpose event hall and exhibition hall, respectively, providing diverse public spaces on the upper floors, eliminating the need for students to go downstairs during short breaks. Furthermore, the covered semi-open area effectively responds to the local tropical climate, offering shading and protection against intense heat, strong winds, and rain.

The basketball gymnasium is a three-story space featuring large-span structural beams, showcasing structural aesthetics and a sense of strength. Light enters through gaps between the beams, providing ample natural light to the interior and dematerializing the heaviness of the concrete roof. Indoors, maple flooring and wooden fiber sound-absorbing boards with soft furnishings meet acoustic and anti-collision requirements. The organic layout maximizes internal circulation paths and emphasizes directionality, giving the sensation of sailing towards the light inside a giant ship. The canteen offers a two-story dining space, with a ramp volume breaking in from the outside, resembling a foreign object landing in the center. Suspended from the ceiling and combined with diffused natural light, it creates a sculptural and surreal floating atmosphere. The dormitory building’s architectural language is consistent with that of the teaching blocks. Living spaces are organized around the courtyard, ensuring each room enjoys sufficient natural ventilation and light. The organic layout accommodates various room types.

Different shading systems are used for each elevation to address the varying orientations of intense sunlight. The south facade of the Teaching Block features white and wood grain aluminum sun-shade panels applied both horizontally and vertically, enriching the facade and visually reducing its volume. The north side primarily uses horizontal sun shades. The canteen and gymnasium, facing west, have denser vertical sunshades arranged at optimized angles to account for the sun’s incidence direction during the summer solstice.

Light activates color and space, giving materials various expressions. The 17-meter-high columns and expansive roof, both made of fair-faced concrete, are highlighted through the interplay of light and shadow, creating a rhythmic and spiritual experience. Abstract geometric volumes are finished in colored texture paint—red for passion, blue for calmness, and yellow for liveliness—infusing the space with drama and emotion, akin to a dynamic oil painting. The interior is illuminated by diffused daylight through skylights, combining with the hues of colors and shadows to create a spiritual and mystical balance, nourishing the soul and stimulating the mind.

Haikou jiangdong huandao experimental school / tao (trace architecture office)

The kindergarten is located on the southwest side of the campus with its own entrance. Despite the limited space, the design aims to create an environment where children can run freely. A loop of circulation is created, connecting different levels with various ramps, allowing for continuous and homogeneous movement throughout the building. The roof extends from the ground, while the center of the building—configured like a figure eight—serves as both the endpoint and starting point of the journey. Classrooms are designed with double-sided semi-open corridors. The outer corridor serves as the main circulation space, while the inner corridor, a combination of flat floor and steps, faces the inner courtyard, forming a covered balcony for relaxation and communication. The middle layer of the building is elevated to open up more shaded outdoor activity space, which actively responds to Hainan’s tropical climate. This design also creates angled intersection spaces scaled to fit children, becoming unique and exciting hotspots for fun and social interaction.

Haikou jiangdong huandao experimental school / tao (trace architecture office)

The kindergarten, teaching blocks, and dormitory building of the senior high school are interconnected through a unified organic architectural language. Children move seamlessly from the ground to the sky and from indoors to outdoors, growing up freely on this borderless campus.

Haikou jiangdong huandao experimental school / tao (trace architecture office)
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Haikou, Hainan, China

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