Perkins Eastman - Concordia International School Shanghai, Shanghai, China Print
Thursday, 26 August 2010 08:50

Concordia International School Shanghai (ciss) is an independent private day school for students Pre-K through Grade 12. following the master plan update and implementation of Phase iii - a new elementary school and arts center, the same architects moved onto the programming, planning and design of the final phase – a new high school building and renovation of the existing.

As the final leg of ciss’s phased master plan for expansion, the new high school facility is a physical manifestation of a student’s final threshold before moving onto college and post-graduate life. the maturity and freedom exhibited in the design of this building evokes the spirit with which the school hopes students will take with them as they move forward.

While we posted an article about the project when it was completed back in January, we are revisiting the project with more information and photographs with the series on the recipients of the 2010 Architecture for Education (CAE) Awards.

All images ⓒ ShuHe


Although all located within the same campus boundaries, the master plan organizes the progression from elementary to high school into a sweeping movement from right the left , then north to the high school’s new home base. In observance of this overarching planning concept, the new high school concentrates shared program with the middle school along the southern portion of the building while the dedicated high school areas including the Pe (Physical education) commons is in the most remote area at the northern end along the exterior climbing wall.

As a part of a larger master plan vision realized, the high school planning and design responds by both supplementing and complementing the existing campus fabric through building form and its incorporation of transparency and materiality. although only one new material of limestone is introduced into the campus’ existing vocabulary, the high school building reinvigorates the use of existing materials including terracotta, perforated metal, metal panel, and glass curtainwall.

Constrained by requirements to preserve the existing green fields to the east and held to the shadow setbacks created by the neighboring Pingale school, the project was challenged with the goal of maximizing available far while still observing a sense of scale to the existing campus context. By visually organizing each of the program areas of classroom, science, Physical education, administration, and media into distinct volumes layered over one another, the overall scale is relatable and identifiable.
perkins_eastman_CISS_School_06As the final chance to make an impact on the 12-year old campus, the architect saw an unprecedented opportunity to develop a program and design that could stand the test of time. flexibility of use is programmed into the organization and adjacency of primary and secondary support spaces mindful of an evolving curriculum. as learning methodologies change, the spaces offer the potential for paired classrooms through visual connectivity, as well as larger open spaces more easily organized through movable interior partitions and updated furniture systems.
perkins_eastman_CISS_School_08Program Goals included:
• Build-in effective capacity for 500 HS students to be split into 5 sections per grade
• Expand and support the reconfiguration of the original Phase I building through expansion of amenity spaces
• Create a culture of trust and responsibility; increased self-directed project space for high school students
• Highlight the importance of higher expectations in science and math through cross-curricular spaces
• Identify areas for increased interaction between students and teachers
• Employ space efficient strategies wherever possible; encourage integration of efficient systems


ciss’s new facility was envisioned as a place to transition between high school and university through the promotion of social, independent and self directed learning environments - all within a sustainable and environmentally responsible context. the open nature of the building’s interior and spatial vocabulary of the ‘commons ‘ creates light-filled, multi use spaces:
- Learning Commons: used to support both formal and informal learning it is the physical heart of the building visually connecting the seniors café, Library and main cafeteria.
- Science Wet Labs: serves as the shared resource to multiple science lecture rooms forming a ‘science suite’; all of which is connected to the outdoor bio-roof.
- World Language Lab: a state-of-the-art support space to world language classrooms for experiential learning.
- PE Commons: a transition space for activity and interaction; connects the weight room, exercise studios to the exterior sports patio with climbing wall and access to the soccer pitch.
Located in shanghai, one of the fastest growing cities in china, ciss viewed the design and construction of their new high school facility as an opportunity to redesign the entire campus’ heating and cooling system using highly efficient geothermal technology. The system employs 905 vertical heat exchange wells in 9 heat exchange areas with wells 80m deep into what will be the future natural grass soccer field.

A temperate water-based solution stored below is then used to warm or cool the passing air which is then circulated back into all five buildings on the school’s property.

The overall demand on heating and cooling is also reduced through the incorporation of green roofs over 40% of the newly constructed roof surface resulting in an overall reduced heat-island effect. the largest portion of the green roof is landscaped over light monitors located above the gymnasium/events space. these monitors help control light levels by transforming daylight into indirect light also decreasing heat gain for optimal indoor conditions. contrasting this operationally advantageous roof is an environmental instructional garden located above the Library. this habitable garden is located with direct access from the adjacent science suite for cross- curricular experiments and the incorporation of ongoing field studies conducted by students on weather and air quality. the soil used on the green roofs is made from recycled crushed red bricks mixed in with compost fertilizer for the plants. all green roofs also include swale lines reducing overall storm water runoff for the site.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 August 2010 09:29