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A render of Lushan Primary School. Image: Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects to use robots to build school

The latest robotics technology is to be utilised by Zaha Hadid Architects for their latest project, building a remote school in China.

Lushan Primary School, designed by principle architect Patrik Schumacher, will be an educational institute for 120 children located north-west of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province, and serve 12 local villages with a total population of about 1,800 people.

To minimise construction time and also reduce the number of separate building elements required to be transported to the school’s remote location, Zaha Hadid Architects proposes to combine the local skills of in-situ concrete construction with new advancements in hot-wire cut foam formwork that can be prepared on site by an industrial robot to create the barrel and parabolic shaped moulds.

The campus includes the school, dormitory and utility buildings within vaulted spaces that connect directly with their rural surroundings. The classrooms have flexible learning arrangements and outdoor teaching areas.

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Composed as a network of barrel and parabolic vaults that open towards the river, the vaults stretch and intersect to accommodate the school’s varied programme. A long central courtyard acts as the school’s main circulation space and play area.

The vaulted classrooms are orientated for the best natural light conditions, as well as to frame views to the surrounding landscape. Cantilevers protect the classrooms from the solar gain of Jiangxi’s sub-tropical climate and extend the teaching spaces into the landscape to provide a varied and interactive learning environment.

The barrel and parabolic vaults act as the school’s primary structure and enclosure, with each vault performing as an individual structural element.

The modularity of the vaults enables moulds to be used multiple times, further accelerating the construction process and reducing costs.

Lushan Primary School was established by Jinggan Yu, president of the College of the Arts in Jiangxii. Yu is an architect, designer and painter and the school combines his work as an educator with his passion for the built environment.

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