Located in Suzhou Industrial Park, Xi’an Jiaotong–Liverpool University grows up in a beautiful environment where there is a harmonious coexistence of the city’s rich cultural traditions and its rapid economic development. Designed by Andy Wen, Global Board Director of Aedas, its Administration Information Building was inspired by the famous Taihu stone unearthed in the Taihu lake area west of Suzhou city. The porous nature of the stone is reflected by voids and spaces inside the building, which facilitate interactions and allow a series of sustainable design features.
Taihu stones are sometimes referred as scholar’s stones, as they are always appreciated by Chinese scholars. They are a kind of limestone exposed to long-term wave erosion, resulting in pores and holes all over the stone. Peculiar and precipitous in appearance, Taihu stones are of high ornamental value and have been a garden designers’ favourite since the ancient time. The pores and holes of the Taihu stones are transformed into a void structure with functional spaces linking up different programmes in the building, including an administration center, a learning and resources center, a training center and a student activities center. The voids also allow the building to respond to the users and surrounding context and turn it into a vessel for interaction. The different heights of voids create a three-dimensional Suzhou garden within the building, and provide rooms for sustainable features such as the introduction of natural daylight and ventilation.
The voids play an important role in the building’s sustainable strategy. They are on the southeast face to encourage natural ventilation during summer time; while the solid north-west face blocks cold wind during the winter.