Work starts on China outpost for iconic UK school

Ground has been broken on a major new school campus for Fettes College in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou

Fettes College was founded in 1870 in Edinburgh and is one of the UK’s leading independent schools with an alumni that includes for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Nobel Laureate Professor Angus Deaton.

The new all-through school is a partnership between Fettes and Bright Scholar, China’s largest school operator, and will accommodate 2,320 students and more than 300 staff, many of whom will live on site.

Broadway Malyan, which is currently involved in the design and delivery of 16 international and bilingual schools across Asia, was commissioned to design the masterplan, landscape, architecture and interiors of the new K12 school.

Harry Hoodless, Broadway Malyan’s education lead, said the aspiration for Bright Scholar was to create a new educational benchmark for the sector in China.

He said:

“Fettes has a strong reputation and fantastic heritage and so the aim of this project was capture each element that combines to create such a powerful educational brand and subtly adapt it for the Chinese market.

“Our approach for the masterplan was focused on marrying the unique identity of the place that Guangzhou offered with the best parts of Fettes – not necessarily replicating the Gothic architecture but trying to replicate the unique ethos that has made it so successful for 150 years.

“The new campus will include a kindergarten, primary, middle and senior schools with each building designed to respond differently to the age of the building users. Focused on educating the whole child, full boarding and excellent pastoral care sit at the heart of the school’s identity.

“As such each house has its distinct building with a unique arrangement, collectively creating an urban village in which library pods, dining, sports, health and wellness facilities are fed from a high street experience we have called the ‘learning spine’”

The southern elevation of the senior school marks the main visitor entrance to the campus with the façade materiality, colonnades and arches all reference the Scottish baronial school in Edinburgh in character, and deliver the centrepiece statement of arrival desired.

Inspiring landscapes are a clear departure from the traditional school playgrounds, featuring space for reflection, activity and sports, learning through play, make and do. A range of scales of space have been provided to facilitate learning and socialising either individually, peer to peer or in larger groups.

Allotments and sunken gardens designed to accommodate heavy rains are full of successional pioneer species that connect students with their environment and nature, in the hope that if students experience, understand and enjoy sustainably designed and managed landscapes they are more likely to become stewards of the built environment after graduation.

Key stats

Start on site – September 2018

Completion – September 2020

Gross internal floor area – 133,000m2

Construction cost – Undisclosed

International Education Designer – Broadway Malyan

Architect – Country Garden Overseas Design Institute

Landscape Architect – Broadway Malyan

Client – Bright Scholar

Structural engineer – Country Garden Overseas Design Institute

M&E consultant – Country Garden Overseas Design Institute

Quantity surveyor – GLEEDS