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Wycombe Abbey School
Hangzhou, China

Wycombe Abbey School, located in the Xiao Shan district of Hangzhou, China, is a unique architectural landmark that integrates local history and culture into its design.

The school is situated amidst a mountain and lakeside setting, providing a peaceful and green learning environment for its 1,428 students. The campus not only offers teaching facilities but also boarding options for 960 students.

The design of the school draws inspiration from the archaeological digs that uncovered old boats, kilns, pottery pieces, and earthenware dating back to 700 BC in the local vicinity, informing both the materiality and form of the building’s external envelope.

The Performing Arts building, situated at the front of the campus and overlooking the lake, is the highlight of the project with its form acting as a reflection of the site’s context and responding to the lakeside location and the contours of the land with the building envelope using materials that reflect the local brick-making and ceramics history.

The main teaching buildings feature a series of interlocking courtyards that offer social areas for students to interact between lessons. Stand-out facilities include a multipurpose sports centre with a 25m pool, back-to-back double gyms, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls and access directly onto external pitches and the surrounding hillside landscape and lake, all of which can be used for a wide range of sports and extra-curricular activities.

The media libraries are situated in a communal street space, providing opportunities for integrated social learning activity adjacent to the dining spaces.

The school’s master plan is focused on creating a strong sense of community cohesion, and the buildings have been designed with the human experience in mind. The lake is the natural heart of the campus, with boarding houses placed around its edge to create a distance between residential and teaching spaces.

The scale and layout of the boarding accommodation reflect Wycombe Abbey’s strong house system, with each “house” having space for one teacher for every eight students and its own front door into its dedicated social space; a home away from home for the boarding students.

A kindergarten is located on the west side of the site, away from the main school, offering a secluded and quieter environment for younger children.

The design of the campus is centred around creating an environment that complements Wycombe Abbey’s ethos of personalized, holistic learning, and pastoral care.

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