Huizhen High School: 2023 World Building of the Year Triumph

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In a celebration of architectural innovation, Huizhen High School, a stunning creation by Approach Design Studio in collaboration with Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group, has emerged as the triumphant World Building of the Year at the prestigious 2023 World Architecture Festival (WAF). This accolade was bestowed upon the project during a dazzling Gala Dinner at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, marking a groundbreaking moment in campus design.

Efficiency-First Design

Nestled in the heart of Jiangbei District, Ningbo City, Huizhen High School stands as a testament to ‘efficiency-first’ campus design, where time isn’t just spent but embraced wholeheartedly. This boarding school defies convention, resembling a ‘floating forest’ where classrooms dangle in the corners, interconnected by winding pathways. The campus, resembling a haven, features scattered tree houses providing students with temporary escapes from the rigors of academic life.

Architectural Promenade

A distinguishing feature of this architectural marvel is a ramp leading up to a gently sloping roof, serving dual purposes as an open-air lecture hall and a rooftop park equipped with sports facilities. Remarkably, this space is open to the public on weekends, introducing a new typology of architectural promenade that seamlessly blends education and community engagement.

Director’s Perspective

Di Ma, the Director at Approach Design Studio/Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group, expressed the philosophy behind the design, stating, “We always try to explore the boundaries of architecture while making something that’s fun. Our focus was not just about designing a school but about designing new school life and bringing the power of nature into the building. The building gives students a space to relax and relieve their stresses between their lessons.”

Jury’s Verdict

The accolade was not granted lightly; a super jury composed of luminaries from the global architecture industry, including Sir Peter Cook, Guallart, Richard Hassell, and Albert Williamson-Taylor, carefully evaluated and selected Huizhen High School as the epitome of architectural excellence. The jury commended the project for its unexpected and delightful design, deviating from the traditional model of boxed-in classrooms. The innovative approach encourages students to enjoy nature, fostering relaxation and reflection away from academic intensity.


Huizhen High School‘s recognition as the World Building of the Year signifies a paradigm shift in educational architecture. This groundbreaking project not only challenges norms but also paves the way for a more harmonious integration of learning spaces with the natural environment. As we celebrate this architectural masterpiece, it beckons us to reimagine the future of education where design transcends the ordinary and inspires generations to come.

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