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Academy of ASTEM
Shanghai, China

A new approach to education, with the design based on a “children’s museum” concept

The Academy of ASTEM project involved the refurbishment of a private members club in Shanghai’s Songjiang District.

Comprising four floors, the spaces were transformed into a range of learning spaces, mixing traditional classrooms with activity areas resembling a museum gallery style. These activity zones are themed in a variety of ways, including an observatory, time tunnel, garden area, city square, beach, cinema and aquarium, which utilises an existing indoor swimming pool on the site.

There are also four spaces inspired by important Chinese inventions; paper, the printing press, gunpowder, and the compass. The brief was to capture the interactivity and sense of wonder common to museums and our design was guided by six words; making, gathering, learning, exploring, inspiring, and enquiring.

This was all tied together under an overarching banner of the future city. There are ten classrooms, teaching Grades 1, 2, 3. Other facilities include a nursery, library and lab. The top floor provides office, meeting space and a staffroom for the teachers.

A double height lobby welcomes visitors and students to the school and a spiral staircase forms the main centrepiece. The clients branding was incorporated within the design, with coloured glass and patterns utilised throughout the building to create areas of interest and direct children to different spaces. A playful approach has also been taken to scale, with oversized furniture and sculpture in places.

A mixture of natural and high-tech materials have been used, including digital displays and areas that students can draw and paint on the walls, in an effort to fuse art, nature and technology.”

The Academy of ASTEM is affiliated with China Future Education Group, the education investment arm of CIFI Group. Its aim is to create international standard kindergartens with a focus on traditional STEM subjects aligned with the Arts and Humanities.

Double height entrance lobby at Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China.
Coloured glass and patterns used throughout Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China.
Elevation of Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China, showing four floors of learning spaces and spiral staircase centrepiece.
Photo of learning space at Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China, mixing traditional classroom areas and museum gallery style spaces.
Wall art around the aquarium and indoor swimming pool at Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China.
Photo of outdoor garden area at Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China, featuring a running track and climbing wall.
Photo of garden area with children's playhouse at Academy of ASTEM in Shanghai, China.

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