The culture whale

The Pinghe Bibliotheater completes the Qingpu Pinghe International School designed by Open Architecture in Shanghai. A project and a form to nurture imagination and the cultural engagement of young people

Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
DATA SHEET

Client: Shanghai Tixue Education and Technology
Architectural design: OPEN Architecture
Structural, MEP and Curtain Wall Consultant: CABR Technology
Theater/Acoustic Consultant: Shanghai Net Culture Development
Lightings: Shanghai Modern
Photo Credits: Jonathan Leijonhufvud, CHEN Hao, WU Qingshan, OPEN Architecture

Some see a giant whale, others an ocean liner. Certainly the form of the Pinghe Bibliotheater is evocative and won’t be overlooked, with its sloping roof, pointy skylights, and round windows like portholes, piercing the compact geometry with its unusual blue color. The building completes the master plan of Open Architecture for the Shanghai Qingpu Pinghe International School. A program that intentionally deconstructs the usual arrangement of schools, scattering it in a set of volumes with distinctive forms and identities. The library and theater interlock inside the vast area of this “distributed scholastic village” in a virtuous way.

Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
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Theater and library: darkness and light

In the project by Open, the distinctive qualities of these two functions and their respective physical needs have determined their internal layout, placing the two theaters, the café and part of the library on the ground floor – in central, soundproofed locations – with the library continuing up to the first floor. The latter rises over the main theater, whose sloping ceiling triggers the staggered arrangement of comfortable, luminous reading zones, while inserting a roof garden to offer a breath of fresh air for the students.

Surrounded by bookshelves, the central area is occupied by a circular structure, emphasized by the light arriving from a large oculus on the roof, which defines the contours in an almost spiritual way.

Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai

The structure is composed of three elements that have a dual function, with wooden stepped seating on the inside, and metal bookshelves along the outer perimeter. While the spaces of the library are it by large skylights and openings in the elevations, in the theater the natural light has been completely screened for the use of artificial lighting, carefully designed to meet functional requirements. The juxtaposition of warm wooden panels and dark blue walls sets the pleasant tone of the auditorium.

A cultural center open to the community

The Bibliotheater is not just for the 2000 students of the school, but also for the surrounding community. On a main street at the edge of the campus, the cultural center can also be utilized when the school is closed. To reach the lobby of the main theater, one passes through the jaws of the whale, namely the entrance marked by a large diagonal cut. A second access leads to the library lobby.

Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
Pinghe Bibliotheater, Qingpu Pinghe International School, Shanghai
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