In Deyang, Sichuan, a district less than an hour from the provincial capital of Chengdu, five schools collapsed and 17,000 people were killed during the calamitous 7.9-magnitude earthquake of 2008. Now, one of the marks of Sichuan’s suffering is a symbol of its reconstruction. A new school called Xiaoquan Elementary, designed by Beijing-based TAO Architects, has finally opened its doors to scores of survivors. The firm, led by Hua Li, used locally sourced materials like bamboo, concrete and wood to create a network of streets, plazas, alleys and courtyards that mimic the fabric of the city outside, offering the children a feeling of familiarity. Labour was also sourced from the area, in the spirit of building community.
By: Jessica Beaton
Steps leading to the entrance of Xiaoquan Elementary School.
Green space meets concrete where the sports fields meet the main school grounds.
The architects and workers experimented together on site with new concrete techniques.
An intersection of concrete pathways.
‘The elements of the project I’m most proud of,’ says Li, ‘are the spaces we created to give children a wonderful place to play and communicate.’
Low-tech and low-cost materials like bamboo, concrete and wood were locally sourced
Because it was difficult to get a large local supply of bricks, TAO commissioned several small kilns in the region, which supplied the site with bricks in slightly different tones. The architects reserved each batch for a different building
Students play in the multiuse space between the classrooms
The schoolyard pavement was constructed with bricks recycled from buildings destroyed in the earthquake