Qutan: A Unique Extension to Qutan Primary School

Blending Tradition and Innovation for a Safer and More Engaging Learning Environment

The Qutan Primary School in Heyuan City, Guangdong Province, China, has recently undergone a remarkable transformation with the addition of a two-story extension. Designed by the renowned architect Saup Szu, the Qutan extension seamlessly integrates traditional architectural elements with modern design principles, creating a unique and inspiring space for students to learn and grow.

The inspiration for the Qutan extension came from the wisdom of local traditional buildings and their adaptation to the climate. The design team incorporated cobbles, a typical local material, to construct masonry walls, paying homage to the architectural traditions of Qutan. This not only adds a sense of authenticity to the project but also establishes an architectural paradigm that reflects the village's rich cultural heritage.

One of the standout features of the Qutan extension is the division of the school space into internal and external parts. By embedding the new building on the east side of the campus, the design ensures a quiet and focused learning environment inside the school while transforming the Central Small Square outside into an extension of the village's communal space. This innovative approach not only enhances the students' learning experience but also fosters a stronger sense of community.

The central corridor running through the middle of the new building serves as both a circulation route and a showcase of traditional architectural space form. This design element not only facilitates movement within the school but also highlights the seamless integration of tradition and innovation. The corridor acts as a bridge between the old and new, connecting the students with the village's architectural heritage.

Technologically, the Qutan extension showcases a combination of traditional construction techniques and modern design solutions. The first-floor walls of the new building feature a combination of masonry and locally sourced cobbles, preserving the architectural traditions of the region. Sun-shading grilles were installed on the east and west exteriors to block sunlight in the summer and enhance the comfort of the space. Additionally, the width of the west corridor was expanded to provide more activity space for the children, further enhancing their learning experience.

The Qutan extension spans an area of 570 square meters and includes four classrooms, one reading room, two activity rooms, and two teachers' offices. Its completion has not only expanded the students' learning space but also satisfied their need for a nearby school. Moreover, the project has successfully established an architectural paradigm that reflects the traditional context of local architecture.

With its innovative design and thoughtful integration of tradition and modernity, the Qutan extension has received widespread acclaim. It was awarded the Bronze A' Design Award in the Architecture, Building, and Structure Design category in 2023. This prestigious accolade recognizes the project's outstanding creativity, technical excellence, and contribution to improving the quality of life for the students and the community.

The Qutan extension stands as a testament to the power of design to create spaces that not only meet functional needs but also inspire and connect people to their cultural heritage. By blending tradition and innovation, Saup Szu has created a safe and engaging learning environment that fosters a sense of belonging and pride among the students of Qutan Primary School.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: SUIADR, SAUP
Image Credits: Image copyright: Ding Xia
Project Team Members: Zhong Botao Zhong Dekun Zhong Zhong Xiong Yonghui Xing Canqiu Zhang Yixiang
Project Name: Qutan
Project Client: SUIADR, SAUP

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