The design concept for the 1,5 M square meter large Sino-French Aviation University refers to the traditional culture of Liangzhu, a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the Yangtze River Delta of China, and skillfully combines it with contemporary architecture and design. According to the topography of the site, a decisive formal and infrastructural focus lies on the water system: canals and docks are established within the existing water supply streams to form eight campus islands and two technology islands. Each functional cluster is surrounded by the river system and a large garden in a microclimate environment.
An industry-academia axis and an urban landscape axis form the overall planning skeleton. The former connects the North and the South with courtyards, squares, and roads, while combining public teaching, labs and service function buildings. The landscape axis connects the green corridor on the West side of the city with the East-West main entrance of the campus and extends to the mountain on the East side, becoming the main landscape corridor of the campus. Regarding the internal structure, 660,000 square meters of the site are dedicated to the academic campus, and 930’000 square meters host the science and technology park with corporate and commercial companies.
The central building and its flying roof constitute the most important design element of the project. The lightweight concave roof floats on top of the main building and opens itself towards the sky, like a plane taking off. The public and shared functions are distributed among the different parts of the central building: research labs, classrooms, conference halls, canteen and sports halls. These elements are arranged around a central courtyard and linked by the interconnecting roof scape.
Incorporating ancient cultural elements of Liangzhu, rough natural materials and masonry texture are used for the facades of the buildings. Modern technical components such as glass, concrete and steel subtly complement the traditional Chinese façade parts. The significant contrast between old and new, traditional and futuristic, heavy and light brings a brand new modern interpretation of the aviation campus.