Since its implementation in 1956, Taipei’s urban plan has led to the growth of a low-rise, high-density mixed residential form through the rearrangement of street blocks and the construction of new buildings. This compact, mix-use urban blocks provides diverse experiences for city-dwellers. On the other hand, the Xinyi District, established in the 1980s as a political and economic hub modeled after Tokyo’s sub-center, has become Taipei’s prominent central business district, featuring skyscrapers such as Taipei 101, the World Trade Center, City Hall, shopping malls, and high-end offices. In contrast to the tight and quaint street blocks of old Taipei, the spacious roads, ample green spaces, and towering structures in the Xinyi District present a modern, idealized vision of the city.
The advent of globalization has resulted in international teaching methods becoming the norm in primary and secondary education, leading to a proliferation of international schools in major cities around the world. Taipei, with its high population density and limited land resources, particularly in the city center, has seen a trend of newly established international schools located in the suburbs. Meanwhile, primary and secondary education in the heart of the city remains largely centered on public schools established in its early history.
Taipei Kingston International School is located in the heart of Taipei City, with the vibrant Xinyi District situated adjacent to it. Directly opposite to the southeast lies the central business district, which is represented by the towering presence of Taipei 101. This prime location offers students easy access to some of the city’s most bustling and iconic areas, providing a dynamic environment for both learning and exploration.
The project is located in a neighborhood with a strong sense of community, with mainly four-story or lower residential buildings surrounding it. The streets are of a friendly scale, with a pocket park to the west providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city. In Taiwan, due to the dense population and tight community connections, the school and community have a friendly and supportive relationship. The school is seen as a part of the community’s resources, with its athletic facilities and open spaces available for community use on weekends. The strong community awareness on the streets and alleyways helps maintain campus security, serving as a “pair of eyes” for community safety, as mentioned by famous American city planner Jane Jacobs.
The project site covers an area of approximately 40 meters by 40 meters and is situated on three sides by roads. Due to regulations regarding setbacks and height restrictions, the floor area is limited, necessitating vertical development of the building. In light of the scarcity of land resources in the city center, this vertical development of the campus represents a new direction.
The vertically oriented campus has higher efficiency in its traffic flow. The overall functional layout places the first and second floors connected by a large staircase and features outward-oriented spaces such as the lobby, library, and administrative offices. The third to fifth floors, with the highest level of vertical accessibility, are designated as grade-level classrooms. The sixth to eighth floors, adjacent to the grade-level classrooms, are for subject-specific classrooms such as language, science, and art. The ninth floor serves as the performance center and the tenth floor as a multi-functional sports center. The scenic views from the fourth floor and above, including the beautiful cityscape and landscape, are used as teaching materials and are a highlight of the vertical campus.
In terms of overall functional layout, we aim to create spaces that are multi-functional and flexible, adapting to various teaching styles. The lobby has been designed to incorporate multiple functions such as reception, display, performance, and library, making it the heart of the campus. The large staircase leading to the second floor doubles as a three-dimensional library, with shelves, stairs, and seating combined to offer children reading opportunities and make it more enjoyable. The staircase is also a part of the teaching space, where students can listen to lectures and enjoy performances. This multi-functional use of the lobby brings a lively atmosphere to the campus.
The environment has a subtle and lasting impact on children, and a good learning environment helps to maintain an atmosphere of constant learning. In terms of space design, our goal is to create a “teaching environment that is conducive to learning.” We want children to have opportunities for self-directed learning outside of class, through activities such as reading, creating, performing, or interacting with their peers.
In the design of the grade level classrooms, we have created a distinctive curved creative corridor that integrates various features such as a small stage, a graffiti board for creation, a display board for works, and a photo wall. This allows for creativity, learning, interaction, and performance to happen at any moment. The unique pentagonal classroom space creates distinct learning areas, such as a library corner and an information corner. During the ten minutes after class, children can relax and delve into reading in the library corner or researching in the information corner. In this way, learning is not limited to the classroom, but becomes a part of campus life.
In the design of subject classrooms, the aim is to enhance students’ engagement with different subjects and create an environment that fosters immersive learning. The moment students enter a classroom, they should be able to experience the teaching theme and become fully immersed in the subject. In the language classroom, the walls are decorated with foreign language literature and poetry to enhance students’ literary awareness. The science classroom is designed with dynamic lines to convey a sense of technology, and features elements like planets, robots, and gears to create a scientific atmosphere. In the art classroom, a contemporary geometric art theme is employed and geometric elements are used to create a space with a strong artistic appeal.
In the design of the multi-functional performance center, the use of arched sequential lines enhances the stage’s sense of depth and visually enhances the stage’s effects. In the design of the sports center, vertical elements integrate the surrounding walls, bolster the overall unity of the space, and add sports elements to the walls to enrich the athletic atmosphere.
In the design of the entrance, a double frame entrance gate resembling gestures is created to present a friendly image of the campus. The door leaves and wall continue the vertical lines of the building facade to convey the disciplined and lively learning spirit of the international school. Between the entrance, the canopy, and the vestibule, we use the canopy to create a change in light and shadow to create a spiritual and ceremonial feeling when entering the vestibule.
The outdoor courtyard, despite its small size, boasts a rich array of features. A campus-themed water wall located near the entrance provides a calming sound of flowing water to soothe students as they enter the campus and begin their day. The north courtyard is a multi-seasonal flower garden that combines vertical vegetable planting and wisteria trellises for students to experience the changing seasons and harvest their own crops. On the south side, the outdoor fitness activity area features physical training equipment, rope climbing, musical walls, and other entertaining games, creating a fun and energetic environment. The transparent walls serve as part of the vertical greenery, creating a friendly urban appearance and adding to the city’s scenic beauty.
Location: Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Status: Under Construction
Design Finish Year: 2020