“Think of an upscaled Balgay Hill with our campus on it for half the population of Dundee and you are getting close to the environment of Wuhan University. It sits as an oasis of calm, in stark contrast to the motorised chaos of Wuhan City itself.
Hurtling through the streets, weaving in and out of traffic, pedestrians and the occasional lone dog (who seem smart enough to use the crossings) is exhilarating and you quickly learn to go with the flow en-route to the days business. Flat over scaled grids of infrastructure then give way to a narrower, quieter and topographically sensitive road patterns embedded in a mature landscape of trees and exotic plants – you are on campus.
The idea of building a University onto and into a hill is an anathema by todays sensibilities – valuing efficiency and cost above community cohesion – but the result is a wonderful interplay of landscape and built form. The hill means you can visually connect different layers of building. Law looks to literature, the sciences to the arts and so on. Above it all sits a magnificent library both embedded in the ground and sitting as pavilions above it. It is quite literally a manifestation of our own ‘feet on the ground and head in the clouds’ university.”
Written by Graeme Hutton, Professor of Architecture