Reshaping the landscape of modern campuses

Universities are moving out of the city center as enrolments surge — and it's a time to rethink the concept of campus landscapes and design.

Universities are getting a makeover, as landscaping design take a more prominent role — often turning to traditional Chinese gardens for inspiration.

As enrolments increase, universities are also moving out of city centers to the suburbs, providing the opportunity to create new campus environments.

One example is the impressive Xiangshan campus of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Wang Shu.

The campus draws on traditional Chinese gardening, which stresses a more harmonious relationship between architecture and the landscape.

More than 700 pieces of bricks, tiles and stones collected from demolished traditional houses have been used in campus buildings.

University campuses in China are no longer just a place for students. They have become places for architects and local governments to shine.

Shanghai Daily checks out three new campuses that have the potential to become cultural landmarks.

Cangqian Campus of Hangzhou Normal University

Cangqian campus of Hangzhou Normal University

Hangzhou Normal University is one of the earliest colleges for teachers — Zhejiang Dual-level Teachers’ College was established in 1908. It was a hotbed of the May Fourth Movement in Zhejiang. The movement was an anti-imperialist student uprising in 1919, but more broadly referred to the New Culture Movement (1915-1921).

Many pioneering figures of that time taught at the college, including writer Lu Xu and educator Xia Mianzun.

The university has four campuses, with one by the Qiantang River and one at the foot of Yuhuang Hill in the West Lake scenic area.

The newest Cangqian campus is in a booming area of Internet companies and start-ups. Some believe it will be the center of Hangzhou’s Silicon Valley.

Cangqian is a historic watertown in Yuhang District noted for its Lamb Festival every November. Liangzhu, the place where the Neolithic jade culture is discovered, is in its north while the Xixi National Wetland Park to the east.

The bird’s-eye view of the main entrance therefore looks like the facade of a jade cong, a vessel typical of Liangzhu culture. A waterway cuts through the campus dividing building clusters in the east and west.

The central cluster is a circular complex consisting of a library, the administration building, a research center, an activity center, a conference center and a reception center, each joining a central atrium. The complex has already been shortlisted in this year’s World Architecture Festival award.


Address: 2318 Yuhangtang Rd

Zhejiang Conservatory of Music

Zhejiang Conservatory of Music

The Zhejiang Conservatory of Music is the first conservatory in Zhejiang and only opened 2016.

The college offers bachelor and master degrees in music, dance, composition and compositional theory, art and technology. It has a faculty of 420 and 2,015 students.

The 405-hectare campus in Zhuantang town sits at the west side of Xiang Hill, with Wang Shu’s China Academy of Art to the east.

The campus is divided into two. The northern section is the learning area while the southern part is where students and faculty rest and entertain. Most buildings are black, grey or white.

References to music are everywhere. The indoor stadium is like the bellows of an accordion; the accommodation buildings are similar to piano keyboards; the theater and music halls are linked forming the shape of a guitar.

The clock tower at the center is suggestive of an hourglass, or more precisely a twisted harp. LED lights on the “harp strings” are turned on at night, making the sky a kaleidoscope of color.

Public participation was also considered in the design of the campus. The playground is a sunken plaza fitted with seats and is an ideal place for outdoor performances.

There are also one grand theater, three music halls and three medium-sized theaters. All of these are open to the public for performances. Visitors can also enjoy the sculptures and exhibitions scattered around the buildings.


Address: 1 Zheyin Rd

Qiandao Lake campus of Tourism College of Zhejiang

Qiandao Lake campus of Tourism College of Zhejiang

The Qiandao Lake is a resort in Chun’an county, about 150 kilometers southwest of downtown Hangzhou. Most people know the place for its clear water and aquatic food.

The lake is actually a reservoir on the Xin’an River, the upper reaches of Qiantang River which runs through Anhui Province and western Zhejiang Province. It is also a place where you can find many luxury hotels, including Sheraton, Hilton, and InterContinental.

The International Hotel Management School follows the style of the école h?telière de Lausanne, which means the campus is a hotel itself and offers practice-based learning for students.

The campus is on a lakeside slope, spanning 10 hectares. The flat-glass fa?ade of the campus buildings provides a great view of the lake for students in the library or working out in the gym. Many of the buildings use the simple form typical of modernist architecture, featuring a grid of thin marble columns supporting a roof slab.

All the buildings are less than five stories, with some even reaching underground. The teaching buildings are around several half-enclosed quadrangles. Rooftop infinity pools create an interesting contrast with the lake views.

The campus is in Wenchang Town, a quiet spot less visited by tourists. It is a great place to relax, take some fresh air and go fishing. A high-speed train is planned to link the lake with Hangzhou and Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province.


Address: 300 meters ahead of the Qiaoxi tunnel on the S302 provincial highway

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