Tianjin TIANHUA Northern Architectural Design - the geometric motifs of square and circle: Nankai Centennial Hall
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the geometric motifs of square and circle: Nankai Centennial Hall

Tianjin TIANHUA Northern Architectural Design

Education  /  Future
Tianjin TIANHUA Northern Architectural Design
The Nankai Centennial Hall funded by the Nankai University Alumni Association, is dedicated to showing the spirit of this famous institution, with a long history of a hundred years and impressive achievements. The project is located on the east side of the new campus of Nankai University, facing a lake park on its northwest.
The entire building adopts the geometric motifs of square and circle. It is simple and pure, beautiful and elegant.
The geometric motifs of square and circle have special significance for Nankai University, because its philosophical system of education can be abstracted into “Fang” and “Yuan” in Chinese. “Fang” means "square" - representing integrity and strength, while “Yuan” means "circle" - symbolizing wisdom and flexibility. These two shapes make up the school badge, conveying a traditional Chinese idiom “Zhi Yuan Xing Fang”: Know All Around, and Act Straight.
In this project, squares and circles create different spatial characteristics. The squares accommodate the interior space, including the lecture hall, the exhibition hall and the inner courtyard. The design emphasizes the narrative nature of space. Visitors experience the rhythm and cadence of the flowing space through the paths created by the flexible combination of block volumes. There are four lecture halls in the project, the largest of which can accommodate a thousand people, and the stage with an external open staircase can be used both indoors and outdoors.
The circles provide external space such as the platform and steps. Their locations are carefully considered, according to the site and students’ habits. Providing public spaces for students is the main purpose of the design, as a result, outdoor steps are created. Furthermore, the large circular steps are facing to the lake park, making the building interact positively with the environment. Under the steps, the exhibition hall of Premier Zhou Enlai, the most celebrated alumnus of Nankai University, is arranged, as the center of the entire project. Circular elements are also used on the façade. The main square volume is cut by different spherical surfaces, creating spaces similar to "niches". The so-called "niches" not only offers daylighting, but also lead people into the building.

The exterior of the building is covered with ultra-thin stone, which has a natural texture and luster, creating an illusion of “jade”. Jade, in Chinese culture, is similar to "square and circle" , representing strength and wisdom. During the day, natural light penetrates through the stone materials into lecture halls, proving plenty of daylight inside. While, at night, the indoor lights radiate out into the environment, making the building itself an illuminant.

This project combines the functions of commemoration, exhibition, and presentation. It expresses the best wishes of Nankai students for the 100th anniversary of their alma mater. Moreover, it inspires them to inherit the spirit and start a new phase of Nankai University.


 P.R. China
 Nankai University
 10000 mq
 Qiang Xu
 Lixiang Liu, Xiaoming Zhao, Yun Wang, Chunyang Jin


Xu Qiang

Team A: Liu Lixiang, Nie Yin, Fan Zhihui, Wang Yun, LI Yan, Wang Ji, Jin Chunyang
Team B: Liu Jialong, Zuo Hongtao, Qu Zhen, Yang Gaochuan, Li Tianchang, Su Peizhi, Liu Yinuo, Zhang Shuo, Qu Wuchao, Liu Yangqing, Cao Xu

Design Team Introduction
Tianjin TIANHUA Northern Architectural Design was founded in 2014, and now there are about 180 architectural and technical professionals providing services including architectural design, urban design, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering consultation. Our projects covers such areas as residence, commercial, culture, office, complex, etc. The completed works are distributed in Tianjin, Chongqing, Zhejiang, Henan, Shandong, Xiamen, etc.


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