YCIS Ronghua Early Learning Center

This is a renovation challenge! Please create a school that generates surprise and delight.

Yew Chung International School (YCIS) serves thousands of pre-k through secondary students in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Qingdao and Silicon Valley. YCIS Shanghai is the longest established independent international school in the region and has a reputation for academic excellence that develops well-rounded, globally-minded students. Given the demand for their Early Childhood Education program, in 2017 YCIS hired the design team to create a state-of-the-art Ronghua Campus in Shanghai for their youngest learners, 500 students ages two-six years old.

The design called for an extensive interior and exterior renovation of Shanghai’s old Gubei Clubhouse building as well as major site work, including a new a parent drop-off area, changes to parking and site access, and creating outdoor learning and play areas. The interior includes a basement level renovation with a swimming pool, fitness room for upper secondary students and staff, drama theatre with seating for 200 people, music classrooms, recording studio, and rehearsal rooms for drama and music performances. The first and second floors now contain learning communities for all the young students. The third floor is partially enclosed with roof- top access, and now contains a spacious out- door area, art classroom with connection to a commons area, administration offices and teachers’ lounge.

The “hardware,” or spaces, at the new campus supports this curriculum “software” — learning spaces are designed using flexible layouts that can change according to classroom activities and needs. This supports an agile learning environment where students engage in collaborative, community, and small group settings. The campus also includes a range of features that support student-driven experiential learning both inside and outside the building. Best of all, this school creates surprise and delight in everyone who enters.

Project Data

Location: Shanghai, China

Type: Renovation

Size: 94,000 SF

Cost: $14 Million

Date Opened: 2017

Design Team: James Seaman, Ellen Duff

Awards: A4LE LEsolutions Award, 2019