Heyuan Museum of Popular Science Education for K-12s / Architectural Design and Research Institute, South China University of Technology
Text description provided by the architects. At present, future education and future primary and secondary schools have become hot topics in the field of education and architecture. A number of phased achievements have been produced. The new teaching results make new requirements for the teaching space. Taking the typical STEAM education as an example, the new teaching features are mainly interdisciplinary, collaborative, interesting, experiential, and situational. These characteristics require the teaching space to be open, flexible, diverse, and situational, so as to meet the needs of teaching. The Heyuan Museum of Popular Science Education for K-12s is an experimental case of the team in this field.
Project positioning. The Heyuan Museum of Popular Science Education for K-12s is located in the existing campus, with a construction area of 3577 square meters. Although the scale of the building is small, it has the characteristics of demonstration, bench-marking, and special-themed. First of all, with the strong support of the provincial government, this project proposes to build the project into a first-class high-quality popular science education museum in China. As a demonstration project of popular science education in primary and secondary schools in the province, it serves the primary and secondary school students in the whole city and even the whole province. Secondly, there are very few small popular science pavilions for primary and secondary schools, thus the construction of this project can provide experience and reference for the construction of similar venues in the future. Finally, the small-scale project is hard to achieve a comprehensive exhibition, mainly focusing on thematic science popularization. The theme of popular science in the subsequent construction of venues is decided by each school according to its own teaching topics, display content, and other conditions, with distinctive and unique characteristics and avoiding simple replication. Based on such positioning, the design team believes that this project should not only meet the needs of students’ popular science education but also become a place for the development of new teaching methods in the campus at other times, so as to improve the utilization rate of venues. Therefore, the design of the venue should not only meet the requirements of the Expo building, but also adapt to the new characteristics of the current education development, and the new teaching needs of the school, and create an “informal classroom” outside the conventional space in the school.
Functional integration to improve efficiency. The scale of the building is small. And there are not too many rooms if each space is defined by the nature of use, which will also make the utilization rate lower. According to the latest development trend of contemporary education and exhibition, the whole venue is divided into two functional areas: a relatively independent and closed science viewing area and an open teaching area. The former mainly includes the viewing exhibition hall, while the latter is very flexible, with no certain definition of the nature of space. So teachers and students can reorganize it according to the needs of teaching later.
Double track path and three-dimensional streamline. The streamline of the conventional exhibition is mainly plane linear, but in the face of the small-scale premise of this project, the plane streamlines will be interrupted by the floor, weakening the continuity of the visit. Thus, the design sets the streamline as multi-dimensional and makes it as two visiting sequences. Visitors start from two different entrances on the first floor, visit along their respective streamlines, and then go through vertical traffic to the beginning of each other’s streamline. Finally, a complete popular science visit is finished. The streamlined design similar to the spatial double helix structure can realize two streams of people visiting at the same time without interfering with each other, thus improving the visiting efficiency.
Streamlined space and unified expression. The characteristics of functional zoning and streamlined design are immediately reflected in the spatial form. The whole building is a square box. Except for two closed and hovering popular science exhibition halls, the rest of the building is a public open teaching space. Streamline organization shapes spatial characteristics, and spatial form reflects the streamlined organization. The facade design is also fully covered with micro-penetrating polycarbonate panels, with openings in the main space. The facade form reflects the space characteristics.
Multi-space is available for teaching. In addition to the popular science viewing exhibition hall, the open teaching space is of various types and forms. In the form of space, the sizes of the space overlap, making the small group discussion and production, large group ladder gathering, and communication as a whole. On the spatial scale, the design of the staggered layer and jump layer produces a variety of spatial scales. The whole space has strong adaptability, which makes the teaching behavior available to occur anytime and anywhere.
Demonstration benchmark of energy-saving and low-carbon. Low-carbon and environmental-friendly is the concept that the design has always adhered to, and we consulted relevant professional companies in order to achieve such a design in the early stage of the project. A skylight is set above the atrium of the building, which can open the window sash to produce a natural ventilation effect in a stable indoor physical environment, and is conducive to energy saving and emission reduction. The facade uses polycarbonate board, which not only has a good shading effect but also makes the indoor light very soft to meet the needs of teaching. At the same time, ventilation holes are set along the open space on the facade plates to reduce air conditioning energy consumption. In addition, the design actively adopts mature green technology, such as photovoltaic panels, small wind power generation, thermal glass installation, making full use of renewable energy, and striving to create a “zero-carbon building”. This project has also received the “Near-zero Energy Consumption Building” logo issued by China Building Energy Efficiency Association.
Equipment as teaching materials to expand teaching. The design adheres to the concept of “the whole building is an exhibit”. In addition to the space, the equipment pipelines and structural nodes are also open to students, which is an expansion of the science popularization content. All kinds of equipment pipelines indoors are directly exposed, creating an immersive learning environment. Roof-top air conditioning and green technology equipment become equipment science popularization areas, as a special science popularization place.
Roof garden as an outdoor classroom. The design makes full use of the roof space to create an outdoor classroom and outdoor exhibition space. The roof is equipped with a walking path, botanical garden, construction equipment area, and public activity area, which extends the learning behavior to the outdoors.
Postscript. Although the museum has been completed, it is still and will always be in an “ongoing establishing” state. Just as this project is an experimental exploration of the team, the way of use is also an attempt at the school’s way of educating students. The team hopes that this museum will serve as an experimental base for the school’s new curriculum and teaching methods, where new ideas will experiment with, which will be then brought into the teaching of conventional courses, so as to form a virtuous circle.