Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center

Bridging Education: Connecting an Urban Campus for Future Generations


Shenzhen, China, 2021-07-06 –

Efficiency Lab for Architecture PLLC, a firm comprising a team of architects, planners, designers, and educators committed to a better understanding of efficiency in the built environment, is proud to announce the completion of an Early Learning Center in Shenzhen, China, the first school building of an innovative Avenues Shenzhen Campus master plan. The project marks the 5th collaboration between Efficiency Lab and Avenues: The World School, an organization dedicated to providing transformative, world-focused learning experiences to students around the globe.

“We have developed an organic relationship with Avenues over the past four years, and that has included joint research in the education sector,” says Aybars Asci, AIA, LEED, President of Efficiency Lab. “Many factors derived from that research have been incorporated into the Shenzhen project, including bridges, canopies, portals, thresholds, niches, and an overall focus on the importance of architecture in education.”

Tanglang Industrial Zone is one of the few remaining underdeveloped “urban villages” of Nanshan District in Shenzhen. As opposed to a previous strategy of tearing down and building anew, the government has shifted its focus to projects that embrace the adaptive reuse of existing structures. The area is now slated for redevelopment as an education and research zone, and Efficiency Lab is at the heart of the master planning, architectural design, interior design, and furnishings of an urban campus comprised of seven existing industrial buildings to be connected by bridges above the city’s public streets. In addition to connecting the structures through a series of elevated walkways, each rooftop of the campus buildings will be landscaped and will include playgrounds, outdoor learning spaces, and gardens.

“The elevated walkways will continue to be built over the next two years and will connect all seven buildings of the campus together,” explains Asci. “As a result, students will safely be able to access all of the facilities via an experiential pedestrian circulation network.”

Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center was based on the adaptive reuse of a three-story warehouse and parking lot. Efficiency Lab approached the project from the perspective of strategic subtraction and addition, which included making very precise cuts in the existing building to create greater connectivity. The concept of ‘connections’ forms the heart of the project, from physical connections in the form of bridges and pedestrian walkways to visual connections enabled by carefully choreographed atriums strategically carved from the existing warehouse structure.

The first strategic addition that will connect the Early Learning Center to other buildings on the campus is a bridge that has been built to pass through a series of existing banyan trees, providing a unique and inspirational path for entering the facility. Vertical playgrounds descend from the connector bridge, forming a sort of rooftop treehouse environment that weaves among the root structure of the trees. The bridge immerses students in the beauty of the surrounding environment, helping to nurture feelings of empathy towards nature.

Inside the Early Learning Center, multi-level atria were cut from floor slabs of the existing building, creating a series of openings arranged to provide diagonal views across all three floors. The main atrium is centered in the middle of the floor plate, infusing natural light into the building. The concept of connections continues throughout the interior, with color-coded learning pods, thresholds, and niches providing children with the duality of partial seclusion and visual connectivity. Glazed walls provide writable surfaces in a fun and interactive learning zone created around the main atrium, while ‘keyhole’ pods serve as gateways from one zone to another.

“We’re proud to be providing the children of Shenzhen with a playful learning environment that is woven into the urban fabric of the city,” says Asci. “The Early Learning Center is a shining example of adaptive reuse, and a precursor for even greater things to come as the campus is completed.”

Technical sheet

Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China

ELC Program: Toddler – Kindergarten: classrooms, art classroom, science classrooms, dance classrooms, common spaces, support spaces, recreation areas, offices, multipurpose room, playgrounds

ELC Floor Area: 82,000 ft2

Campus Masterplan Floor Area: 300,000 ft2 

Masterplan: Efficiency Lab for Architecture

Design Architect: Efficiency Lab for Architecture

Interior Design: Efficiency Lab for Architecture

Local Design Coordination: WAY Design

Local Design Institute: CCDI

Local Planning Institute: Shenzhen Urban Planning Institute

Structural Design: Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill

Landscape Design: Terrain

Lighting Design: Claude Engel

Acoustic: WSDG

Completion date: Fall 2019

About Efficiency Lab for Architecture PLLC

“Efficiency is Beautiful” is the ethos behind Efficiency Lab’s research-driven design philosophy for building a more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable future. The firm applies first-principles thinking to every new challenge, combining conceptual clarity and analytical processes, including the use of algorithmic tools and building performance modeling, to pave the road towards greater efficiency in the built environment.

Many of the firm’s staff are higher education teachers, and the firm has developed a collective passion for the education sector. In the past four years alone, the firm’s commitment to education has generated 2.7 million square feet of master planning for campuses in Asia, North America, and South America. The firm’s dedicated team of design professionals provides a full range of services, from campus master planning to feasibility studies, architectural design, interior design, furniture design, product design, efficiency consulting, Building Information Modeling (BIM), data visualization, and pedestrian simulation.

For more information


  1. www.efficiencylab.org/

Media contact

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the Pedestrian bridge connecting the Administration Building to the Early Learning Center. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the Pedestrian bridge connecting the Administration Building to the Early Learning Center.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the vertical playgrounds. The supports of the bridges are designed as vertical playgrounds offering students an immersive experience with nature. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the vertical playgrounds. The supports of the bridges are designed as vertical playgrounds offering students an immersive experience with nature.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the vertical playgrounds. The supports of the bridges are designed as vertical playgrounds offering students an immersive experience with nature. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the vertical playgrounds. The supports of the bridges are designed as vertical playgrounds offering students an immersive experience with nature.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the playground and the bridge. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the playground and the bridge.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the playground looking towards the bridge. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the playground looking towards the bridge.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Bridge perched high up within the canopies of the Banyan trees. - Photo credit: Si Hu Bridge perched high up within the canopies of the Banyan trees.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the Bridge crossing over the local street and going in between the Banyan trees, creating a visual marker for the school. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the Bridge crossing over the local street and going in between the Banyan trees, creating a visual marker for the school.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the bridge going through the Banyan trees. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the bridge going through the Banyan trees.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Aerial rendering of Avenues Shenzhen Masterplan.<br> - Photo credit: Efficiency Lab for ArchitectureAerial rendering of Avenues Shenzhen Masterplan.

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Efficiency Lab for Architecture

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Birdseye view of the playground. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoBirdseye view of the playground.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the school entrance from the playground. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoView of the school entrance from the playground.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Dusk view of the playground with the play fountains on the foreground looking towards the building entrance. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoDusk view of the playground with the play fountains on the foreground looking towards the building entrance.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the interconnecting atria marked by niches and suspended feature lights. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoView of the interconnecting atria marked by niches and suspended feature lights.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the central atrium looking towards the clerestory windows. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoView of the central atrium looking towards the clerestory windows.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the central atrium looking towards the blue keyhole niche. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoView of the central atrium looking towards the blue keyhole niche.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Blue keyhole niche acts both as a gateway and a fun area to hang out. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoBlue keyhole niche acts both as a gateway and a fun area to hang out.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - The pods organized around the atrium with views across one another. The writable glazing creates a fun and interactive learning surface. - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoThe pods organized around the atrium with views across one another. The writable glazing creates a fun and interactive learning surface.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - Students playing in the small commons around the interconnecting atria.<br> - Photo credit: Zheng ChaoStudents playing in the small commons around the interconnecting atria.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the Student commons. - Photo credit: Zheng Chao View of the Student commons.

Photo credit:
Zheng Chao

Press kit | 2551-03 - Press release | Avenues Shenzhen Early Learning Center - Efficiency Lab for Architecture - Institutional Architecture - View of the typical classroom. - Photo credit: Si HuView of the typical classroom.

Photo credit:
Si Hu

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