The Central Academy of Drama, New Campus (Under Construction)

PROGRAM: Site planning and individual building design for fourteen buildings including: a variety of teaching facilities, theater and rehearsal halls, administrative offices, recording studios, library, dining hall, sports facilities, a general service building, and dormitories for undergraduate, graduate and foreign students, and visiting professors.
CLIENT: The Central Academy of Drama of China
SIZE: 140,000 m² of buildings on a 14 hectare site.
STATUS: Construction 2008-2017.
LOCATION: Beijing, Chang Ping District

The campus is designed as a town, or a piece of a town. The buildings define the edges of town blocks that form human-scale streets and squares.

An 18 meter wide, north-south canal divides the site into east and west halves. The site is basically zoned “west” for study and “east” for living. A variety of teaching buildings and the library are all on the west side of the canal and - except for the theater - the dormitories, dining hall facilities, and a service building are all on the east side of the canal.

An entry plaza is placed near the northeast corner of the site. Its formal east-west axis intersects the more informal north-south canal axis. At the center of the latter, two of the more “public” buildings, the Library and the Dining Hall, form a campus center, looking at each other across the canal. In better weather, reading and dining extend to the edges of the water.

Typical campuses in China usually have east-west aligned buildings to maximize solar gain and to avoid east-west solar exposure. In this campus design, however, north-south aligned buildings are added to achieve continuous, connected urban blocks forming streetscapes between the blocks and courtyards within. Much attention has been given to the design of east and west-facing facades to protect windows from incoming solar radiation. Several methods have been used, such as, reducing the size and number of openings, deeply recessed windows, aluminum louvers, concrete sun shades, etc. Sidewalk trees will also protect people and buildings from Beijing's glaring summer sun, and, at the same time, strengthen the urban feeling.

The site was originally planned for five blocks of housing with an allowable building height of 18 meters. These preconditions had to be incorporated into the new campus design.