If you travel to the Taicang High-Tech Development Zone on the edge of Shanghai, you will see a state-of-the-art campus – a model for future universities.
This summer, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) will open its new campus – a space to prepare industry elites and future business leaders for the world of tomorrow.
At XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), seven U-shaped buildings for industry-themed schools connect to a ring-shaped building. Landscape elements including trails, water features and green areas, make the space inside the ring both usable and attractive.
HPP Architects, one of Germany's leading architectural partnerships, recently won a design award for this collaborative campus concept that welcomes scientific innovation and entrepreneurship. The architecture firm won a bronze award in the Future Projects: Education category at the World Architecture News (WAN) awards.
XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) overview rendering
Professor Youmin Xi, Executive President of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, says the U shapes, which look like magnets, symbolise a welcoming attitude.
“We’d like to attract global resources, which will allow us to undertake cutting-edge research, develop innovative technologies and cultivate new talent, which in turn will make an impact on the world,” Professor Xi says.
Qi Ren, Associate Partner of HPP Architects, says the plan also provides diverse learning environments intended for a variety of uses.
“The buildings offer students and staff facilities that include flexible studio spaces, workshops, laboratories, and open areas that will foster creativity and collaboration.
“The design enables learning and teaching activities to occur not only in designated classrooms but in all spaces,” she says.
XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) inside garden rendering
The XJTLU Learning Mall
The centrepiece of the design is the 850-meter-long radial XJTLU Learning Mall, an online-onsite educational platform that XJTLU has developed. The online element of the Learning Mall had a soft launch in 2020, and proved to be an instant success. The opening of the campus this autumn enables the Learning Mall to be complete with the launch of its physical component.
Professor Stuart Perrin, Associate Principal of XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), says that the Learning Mall combines the digital and the physical worlds of education.
“The online platform offers students, staff, and people around the world with future-focused educational resources,” he says. “The physical aspect links learning, teaching and research facilities. It also provides spaces for entrepreneurship activities, collaboration with enterprises, and outreach to the local community.”
The XJTLU Learning Mall will build convenient connections among schools, promote meaningful communication among researchers, and provide students, staff, enterprises and society with a vibrant learning atmosphere, Professor Perrin says
“It will be a new way of bringing society into education.”
Breaking down barriers
Professor Perrins continues by indicating that another way of bringing society into education is to break down the barriers between education and industry. He says:
“At XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), industry is involved in the ideas, the concepts, the design and the delivery of educational programmes.
“We develop our programmes in the areas where industry tells us they have needs. Our modules are co-designed and co-developed by industry. Our founding industrial partners have input into the content for every programme and provide opportunities for internships and industry-based research.
“We aim to combine industry and education into an effective partnership to ensure that our education benefits all.”
XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) dormitory area rendering
In contrast to other universities, XJTLU, including the College’s upcoming location, is an open campus without physical gates.
“Traditional universities have walls around them physically; they also have intellectual barriers. However, our university is open; we want to be welcoming, so that whoever is around will feel a part of us,” Professor Perrin says.
“We want to be a facility for society and local businesses, and a catalyst to generate growth in the area,” he says. “After all, education is about reducing boundaries. We are creating opportunities for that in a meaningful way.”
By Xinmin Han
Edited by Tamara Kaup and Patricia Pieterse
Photos by XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) and HPP Architects