Launch Slideshow

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Youth Center of Qingpu

Youth Center of Qingpu

  •  The low, human-scaled volumes that make up the new Youth Center together create a campus of structures connected by courtyards, paved walkways, and a series of bridges.

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    The low, human-scaled volumes that make up the new Youth Center together create a campus of structures connected by courtyards, paved walkways, and a series of bridges.

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    Yao Li

    The low, human-scaled volumes that make up the new Youth Center together create a campus of structures connected by courtyards, paved walkways, and a series of bridges.

  • Many of the building volumes are clad in perforated metal screens attached to brightly colored concrete walls. Cutouts in the screens reveal insulating low-E glazing from Zhuogao Glass.

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    Many of the building volumes are clad in perforated metal screens attached to brightly colored concrete walls. Cutouts in the screens reveal insulating low-E glazing from Zhuogao Glass.

    600

    Yao Li

    Many of the building volumes are clad in perforated metal screens attached to brightly colored concrete walls. Cutouts in the screens reveal insulating low-E glazing from Zhuogao Glass.

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

  • The perforated-metal-screen-clad volumes of the Youth Center are interspersed with white-washed volumes, which the architects used, in combination with the gray brick pavers, to nod back to the traditional building typologies of the region. The windows not only admit daylight, but also help express the interior spaces and program on the minimalist façade.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp10D1%2Etmp_tcm20-1642754.jpg

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    The perforated-metal-screen-clad volumes of the Youth Center are interspersed with white-washed volumes, which the architects used, in combination with the gray brick pavers, to nod back to the traditional building typologies of the region. The windows not only admit daylight, but also help express the interior spaces and program on the minimalist façade.

    600

    Yao Li

    The perforated-metal-screen-clad volumes of the Youth Center are interspersed with white-washed volumes, which the architects used, in combination with the gray brick pavers, to nod back to the traditional building typologies of the region. The windows not only admit daylight, but also help express the interior spaces and program on the minimalist façade.

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

  • Image

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp18D3%2Etmp_tcm20-1642760.jpg

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

  • A courtyard with a large reflecting pool serves as a hub for several of the building volumes, such as a theater and dance studios.

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    A courtyard with a large reflecting pool serves as a hub for several of the building volumes, such as a theater and dance studios.

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    Yao Li

    A courtyard with a large reflecting pool serves as a hub for several of the building volumes, such as a theater and dance studios.

  • Activity Yard

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    Activity Yard

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    Yao Li

    Activity Yard

  •  The voids between the building volumes allow for exterior gathering spaces, like this gravel-lined courtyard filled with planters.

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    The voids between the building volumes allow for exterior gathering spaces, like this gravel-lined courtyard filled with planters.

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    Yao Li

    The voids between the building volumes allow for exterior gathering spaces, like this gravel-lined courtyard filled with planters.

  •  Much of the circulation around the Youth Center complex is outdoors, in gray-paved alleys and over bridges that run like streets through the site.

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    Much of the circulation around the Youth Center complex is outdoors, in gray-paved alleys and over bridges that run like streets through the site.

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    Yao Li

    Much of the circulation around the Youth Center complex is outdoors, in gray-paved alleys and over bridges that run like streets through the site.

  • Second-level outdoor circulation.

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    Second-level outdoor circulation.

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    Yao Li

    Second-level outdoor circulation.

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

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    Courtesy Atelier Deshaus

  • Color is introduced to the interior primarily through vivid walls that are coated in Dulux paint. The internal hallways feature self-leveling concrete floors.

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    Color is introduced to the interior primarily through vivid walls that are coated in Dulux paint. The internal hallways feature self-leveling concrete floors.

    600

    Yao Li

    Color is introduced to the interior primarily through vivid walls that are coated in Dulux paint. The internal hallways feature self-leveling concrete floors.

  • In the library, wood flooring from Armstrong lends warmth to the white double-height space. Circular windows on the lower level look out into one of many courtyards, and terraced seating areas provide gathering spaces for the children.

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    In the library, wood flooring from Armstrong lends warmth to the white double-height space. Circular windows on the lower level look out into one of many courtyards, and terraced seating areas provide gathering spaces for the children.

    600

    Yao Li

    In the library, wood flooring from Armstrong lends warmth to the white double-height space. Circular windows on the lower level look out into one of many courtyards, and terraced seating areas provide gathering spaces for the children.

It’s hardly worth repeating that these days China tends to build big. A number of economic, political, and planning imperatives ensure that the megaprojects that have defined the 21st-century Chinese city probably aren’t going away anytime soon. But with their Youth Center in the historic river town of Qingpu, about an hour’s drive from Shanghai, the architects at Atelier Deshaus saw an opportunity within the bigness to create an urban pocket that’s more human scaled.

Commissioned by a state-owned real estate developer, the Youth Center occupies a 2.7-acre site tucked between a small river and a park in a new section of the city. Alongside creating a greater sense of intimacy, the project aimed to integrate vernacular qualities to counter the cookie-cutter sameness that’s also common among contemporary Chinese cities. What’s more, against the backdrop of an education system that’s better known for rote memorization, the center came with a brief to accommodate extracurricular programming for the area’s growing number of children and teenagers: namely by including facilities for theater, music, painting, calligraphy, and new media. “We decided to put [the various functions] into different building-objects, and arrange them like a community,” says Liu Yichun, who in 2001 founded Shanghai-based Atelier Deshaus—one of China’s leading emerging practices—with fellow Tongji University graduate Chen Yifeng (and a third founder, Zhuang Shen, who has since left the practice).

Indeed, the project’s 155,000 square feet are divided into 15 volumes, each no more than three stories high, to form a villagelike cluster. To the extent that Atelier Deshaus wanted to evoke the region’s traditional typologies and buildings—the latter with their whitewashed faÇades and gray-tiled roofs—the Youth Center creates something akin to a modern palimpsest. Huddled together, its buildings, each at a slightly different scale, offer not so much a historical re-creation as they do a fuzzy template of pure, rectilinear forms—some whitewashed, others seeming to dissolve behind detached, outer façades of white perforated metal. Through these metal screens, one can see flashes of the inner walls, painted green and yellow, while cutouts reveal irregularly placed, rectangular windows that correspond to the spaces inside.

Like other architects in China, Atelier Deshaus often draws from Chinese philosophy in addressing contemporary spatial issues. In this case, the “building-objects”—or more accurately, the relationships between and among them—reference Li (an aesthetic principal of detachment), being both defined and blurred by the compound’s pavered passageways, reflecting pond, courtyards and bridges, which wind around, through and above them. As they go, they lead from unambiguous, tightly defined spaces (a theater, a two-story library, dance studios, classrooms, and offices) to more ambiguous ones (an outdoor amphitheater, a rooftop pavilion, and a walled courtyard with rectangular planters that seems not quite a room nor entirely a garden). Put another way, for Atelier Deshaus, the Youth Center is not so much an assemblage or accumulation of volumes but a juxtaposition of autonomous yet interrelated fragments. “We realize that architecture can be an expression of detachment,” Liu says. And the end result, compared with a more regimented, conventional space, may well be a better, more stimulating learning environment for its users.


Youth Center of Qingpu
Project Youth Center of Qingpu, Shanghai
Client/Owner Shanghai Dianshanhu Newtown Development Co.
Architect Atelier Deshaus, Shanghai—Liu Yichun, Chen Yifeng (co-founders and principals); Gao Lin, Liu Qian, Wang Longhai (design team)
Interior Designer Atelier Deshaus & Vermilion Zhou
Mechanical, Electrical, Structural, and Civil Engineer Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University Group
Geotechnical Engineer Shanghai Civil Defense Survey and Design Institute
Construction Manager Ma Juyun
General Contractor Shanghai Huaxin Construction (Group) Co. 
Landscape Architect Atelier Deshaus
Lighting Designer Zhu Tongyun
Size 154,570 square feet
Cost ¥52 million (CNY) ($8.3 million)

Materials and Sources
Ceilings Armstrong armstrong.com
Exterior Wall Systems Reinforced concrete frame structure
Flooring Boyn (self-leveling cement) www.boyn.com.cn; Armstrong (linseed oil floor) armstrong.com
Glass Zhuogao Glass (insulating low-E glass)
HVAC VRV system 
Lighting Philips (fluorescent lamp) philips.com
Wallcoverings Dulux (water-based paints) dulux.com
Walls Aerated concrete
Windows, Curtainwalls, and Doors Kesheng Curtainwalls Co. (aluminum alloy corrugated perforated plate curtainwall)