Xiao Jing Wan campus by Foster + Partners


As part of its Award for International Excellence, RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects - a global professional membership body driving excellence in architecture) has recognised 20 new buildings in 16 countries.

These range from large urban infrastructure schemes to private homes, cultural destinations to civic spaces, educational buildings to places of worship.

Of these, one of the most striking is the Xiao Jing Wan, a coastal university-style campus by UK-owned Foster + Partners for the China Resources Group, a state-owned Chinese company.

The purpose of the campus is to provide management training for the company’s 450,000 employees.

The institute accommodates 500 students, with residential facilities of up 300 students and 35 staff. The campus in Shenzhen sits on a beautifully landscaped site.

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(Above: The sustainable Xiao Jing Wan campus designed by Foster + Partners. Image: RIBA/© Nigel Young)

Teaching and administration buildings are at the higher level, with residential buildings below, all ranged in a North/South orientation, and three to five in height.


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(Above: Site plans for the campus. Image: Foster + Partners)

The award description on the RIBA website reads: “It is a pleasure to experience the interconnection of external spaces, whose hard and soft landscape relate carefully to the buildings they serve, and which act like a connecting series of external rooms.

Charm and variety here is counterbalanced by the consistency and stateliness of the buildings. The campus was achieved as one single building project, and the design team, perhaps unusually, was retained throughout the project.

“Two main materials are used: beautifully constructed fair-faced concrete and purpose-made bricks reflecting the local red earth on the surrounding hills.

“The project makes its own context: everything around it is even newer than it is – high rise, densely packed blocks, familiar in China. The new campus looks strikingly low rise and has a collegiate feel, with most circulation on external colonnades and walk-ways.

“Natural daylight is everywhere, single sided in bedrooms and classrooms, double sided in the larger spaces. All this, combined with the generous size of all spaces, makes the place feel unstuffy and un-institutional. It feels, and is, sustainable.”

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(Above: Natural daylight is "everywhere" in the award-winning site. Image:RIBA/ © Nigel Young)