New International Shenzhen SchoolNews

The Design of Our Pre-Prep

By Manor Meng



The ethos, teaching methods and curriculum of a great school should be reflected in and supported by its architecture. At King’s, we take the appointment of our architects seriously. Award-winning UK-based architects Walters & Cohen have worked on several projects on the Canterbury campus.We wanted the new school in Shenzhen to inherit the culture of our school in Canterbury, so retained their services for the design of The King’s School Shenzhen International. The Kindergarten, which is the first facility to open, will be one of the best equipped kindergartens in the district.



Shenzhen, on the eastern bank of the Pear River, is now one of China’s mega cities, home to high-flying tech graduates and global corporations. The high-rise towers of Shenzhen could not be more of a contrast to the medieval city of Canterbury, and this rich geographic, cultural and climatic contract between the two cities has inspired our architectural vision for the Kings’ School Shenzhen International. While the King’s School in Canterbury offers a twenty-first-century education in the UK’s oldest school, the new flagship school at Nanshan is a contemporary response to that remarkable historic setting. We have drawn inspiration from the tradition of arranging academic accommodation around landscaped courtyards, and our design reflects the iconic green courts that define the Canterbury Cathedral precincts. 



Our understanding of the local climate has informed how the buildings function and creates well-lit and ventilated learning environments. Working with UK-based landscape architects BHSL, the new school buildings are arranged around generous garden courts and planted roof terraces, creating a beautiful and comfortable place to teach and learn that promotes a sense of wellbeing in pupils and staff. 



Most importantly, the new school has been designed to motivate learning by encouraging collaborative relationships between staff and students. The design of the education spaces has been rigorously tested to ensure they create a progressive learning environment that encourages creativity and a love of learning. 



Our Pre-Prep building will open in 2019 and provide a delightful kindergarten as well as flats for teachers from around the world. The kindergarten is arranged over the lower three floors of existing buildings, each of which opens onto a covered protected garden or terrace for outdoor learning and play. 



The design of the kindergarten encourages teachers to adopt new and creative approaches to the use of space. Classrooms are large and there are group rooms for breakout work, as well as a generous library and ‘maker-spaces’. Teaching staff will be encouraged to use all these spaces on a daily basis, broadening the pupils’ experience beyond a tradition classroom-based approach to teaching and learning.



The combination of an uplifting school design, inspiring teachers, and an internationally recognised and comprehensive curriculum will create the perfect environment in which pupils can flourish academically and socially: be happy, kind, curious and celebrate their individuality.”



Walters & Cohen is an award-winning architecture practice with more than 50 education projects completed, including pre-school and children’s centres, primary schools, secondary schools and masterplans. The practice goes from strength to strength and is well known for its innovative designs that delight and inspire, in particular in the education sector. In 2018 the practice completed their first university project, a building for Newnham College, Cambridge, which was named RIBA East’s Building of the Year 2019. 





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