With its long history, Shaanxi Ankang Middle School is famous as a provider of quality of education within Shaanxi Province. Originally founded in 1905, it has passed through three defining eras of modern and contemporary Chinese history, these being the late Qing Dynasty, the formation of the Republic of China and finally the new China as experienced today. The existing auditorium of Ankang Middle School was constructed in 1991, using brick-concrete walls, steel truss beams, wooden roof panels and a clay tile roof.
However by 2020, and although the building structure had not yet reached the end of its design service life, the building had long been deemed unusable. Seeing the exterior walls, doors and windows being old and combined with a damaged leaking roof, the interior was dilapidated, and the building services were dysfunctional. In addition, with insufficient funds available, debates on whether to rebuild or renovate became irrelevant and the building fell into a state of disrepair.
Fortunately the destiny of the auditorium took a more positive turn towards the end of 2020, with generous donations from the Ankang Boyuan Foundation being received. UUA accepted the design commission to renovate the building both externally and internally, emphasizing on the sense of place, memory, spirituality, identity, and functionality of the building.
External Renovation: The Balance Between Conservation and Renewal
The external renovation of the auditorium inherits the ethos of the original building and looks to retain the memory of the exiting site. A new aluminum roofing system was installed to replace the existing roof that had fallen into disrepair. In order to emphasis the rhythm of the structure and emphasize the significance of the entrances, the proportion of the façade was adjusted and refined.
The north façade became the focus of the renovation, and as it looks to capture a moment in time, it becomes analogous to a stage showing a drama about time and light. Based on a central axis symmetrical layout, this facade is centered around the wide steps that lead the users towards to main entrance. Set above these steps is a three-layer recessed aluminum frame, which is like a stage curtain, framing out a crystal clear glass wall. With the abundant reflection and transmission effects of glass, a real-time changing scene is displayed. In addition by making this reference to a stage from the exterior composition , the north façade echoes the real stage inside, reminding us of the internal function of the building.
To sit in harmony with the existing campus environment, the material finishes of the pilasters and corner details were upgraded using red stone tiles with two different textures.
Internal Renovation: An Open and Standard Space Frame
UUA applies a rigorous and rational approach to the interior renovation of the auditorium, recognizing and balancing the structural order, spatial rhythm, material application and building services though out. Internal flexibility and adaptability is optimized by utilizing an open and standard space frame, thus meeting the multiple needs of the school from performances and indoor sporting activities, to conferences and exhibitions. An integrated design method is adopted to organize the layout of windows, walls and ceilings based on the original structural system of the building, thus creating a rhythm of the space. To ensure the acoustic quality of the auditorium space, the internal walls are enveloped with wood wool acoustic panels and perforated acoustic panels. Seven groups of capsule-shaped ceiling panels that integrate lighting and air conditioning are suspended from the roof structure.
The Spiritual Space of a Campus Reborn
Central to the success of this renovation is the consideration given to the idea of its historical setting as both a space and a place that carry the memories of teachers and students. In preserving this notion, new can be derived from old, resulting in a coexistence of historical memory with modern functions within the building. The renovated auditorium has become one of the most frequently used public buildings in the campus. It remains a continuation of the schools historical trajectory, making reference to the past but also looks toward to future by becoming a new spiritual space for the Ankang Middle School.