After the “5.12” Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, the teaching buildings and dormitories of the Taiping Street Elementary School in Dujiangyan City were designated unsafe and needed to be urgently rebuilt at another location.
The C.P.C. GROUP and Shanghai Zendai Real Estate jointly contributed to the design and construction of the new Friendship School. It is a nine-year grade level school, the first in the country with integrated accessible features and facilities.
The Dujiangyan Friendship School is different from typical schools in China- it is a school for the handicapped. Creating a barrier-free learning and living environment for disabled students was the focus of the design. It was our hope that through barrier-free design, the disabled students would be provided a better learning environment with fewer impediments, resulting in equal learning opportunities.
All entrances and exits of the school adopt a full-ramp system. Corridor-style barrier-free ramps are also provided in the teaching areas to facilitate accessibility to every corner of the campus. Although the teaching and dormitory buildings are only four floors high, elevators have been provided for the benefit of disabled students. The staircases have been equipped with double-sided and double-decked handrails, the classroom furnishings can accommodate wheelchairs, and there are barrier-free washroom facilities in the dormitory. We aspired to effect positive energy through the careful consideration of every design detail.
Generally speaking, the traditional western Sichuan dwelling house features gray tiles, white walls, and sloping roofs, but more notably, the characteristics of traditional architecture are manifested in the form of the courtyard house.
The planning of the Dujiangyan Friendship School inherits the essence of western Sichuan architecture, its design recalling acourtyard house that form sclose connections between the various functional areas.
“Friendly, Self-reliant, Going beyond”
It has been reported that the Friendship School accepts children with special needs up to a maximum number of almost 150, of which 90% are physically disabled and 80% having been injured in the earthquake. They come from all over Sichuan Province, including the most seriously earthquake-stricken areas such as Qingchuan, Pingwu, and Yingxiu. These children were enrolled in classes according to their ages, and received a nine-year compulsory education like local students in Dujiangyan City. With teachers acting like their parents and classmates like their brothers and sisters, whether in the classroom or the dormitory, there would always be a helping handfor the disabled.
According to one teacher from the Moral Education Department: the most important task for teachers at the Friendship School is to help each disabled student to return to normalcy, rebuilt their confidence, and to set future goals for themselves. Guiding the disabled students to grow up with strong heart is the ultimate goal of the school.