Keystone Academy Lecture Theatre Design

Keystone Academy Lecture Theatres, Beijing

Keystone Academy is a Chinese private school based in Shunyi district of Beijing which has been in operation since 2014. This authorised K9-12 IB world school is founded on three keystones: bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; building character and community throughout our residential setting; and promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context. Our lecture theatre design on this project needed to reflect this cultural context.

When the two lecture theatres first came into use they were very much “bare bones”, with inflexible furniture that quickly proved unsuitable, poorly planned site lines, dubious acoustics and poorly functioning air conditioning. The dynamics of the space had not been optimised and they were not serving to differentiate the school or project its values.



Projecting the values of a school into its lecture theatres

One of the key aims of renovating the lecture theatre design, therefore, was to project something of the intellectual heart of Keystone Academy, as well as to serve as a source of pride for members of the faculty, the students and the parents.

Other aims included increasing capacity from 198 to 250 adults through the use of specially designed lecture theatre furniture, with an additional 60 standing spaces, improving the lighting with better ambience and a variety of moods, acoustics (supporting voice projection rather than inhibiting it), technology (AV projection and audio equipment), air handling and, above all, improving the sight lines - the original layout made eye-contract between the audience and any lecturer awkward and impersonal. Our lecture theatre design was to address and correct all of these elements.

Designing for two cultures

One lecture theatre echoes an Asian thread, the other a more Western approach. For the Asian theatre, we commissioned two monumental ceramic sculptures, made in Jingdezhen, the city most associated with China’s porcelain industry, and designed by ceramic artist, Felicity Aylieff, Professor of Ceramics at the Royal College of Art in London.

Still to be installed are a series of large display pictures of early examples of calligraphy, both Eastern (Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchurian) and Western (Egyptian, Syrian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic, English).

Embellishing a lecture theatre design with carefully crafted and selected pieces helps lift the space, both visually and culturally.

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Fitting out in Beijing

Working with our local partners, we led the lecture theatre design and undertook a comprehensive refurbishment, removing all the existing furniture, raised the height of the lecturers’ dais to improve eye contact and make the space more intimate. The consulting team including lighting specialists Sutton-Vane Associates and acoustics specialists Gillerion Scott.

Luke Hughes designed the overall concept for the interior as well as all the furniture, which was manufactured in China from European oak panels, Scottish leather and Taiwanese stainless steel. Everything was produced in Shenzhen under the quality control and direction of the Luke Hughes production team.

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Keystone E lecture hall

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