Li Xiaodong Atelier has built a modest yet stunning library for a small village on the outskirts of Beijing.
25 November, 2011
We have a soft spot for libraries, which is why we did a double take recently when we came across the LiYuan Library by Li Xiaodong Atelier.
This project is a modest addition to the small village of Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing, just under a 2 hours drive from the hectic urban city of Beijing, China’s capital.
On one hand, the library forms a modern programmatic complement to the village; on the other hand, the architecture is used to enhance the appreciation of the natural landscaping qualities of the location.
Rather than add a new building inside the village, the architects have chosen a site in the nearby mountains that is a pleasant 5-minute walk from the village centre.
The decision was intentional. The architects wanted to provide a setting for clear thoughts, and where one had to make that conscious effort to head for the ’reading room’.
Given the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding nature, the firm’s intervention is modest in its outward expression – to compete with nature’s splendour would have been impossible.
The building blends into the landscape through the careful choice of materials and placement of the building volume.
The team had observed large stockpiles of locally sourced wooden sticks around each house in the village, which its 300 residents gather all year round as cooking fuel. They thus decided to use this ordinary material in an extraordinary way, cladding the building in familiar textures in a way that is strikingly sensitive.
In contrast to its exterior, the building’s interior has a very expressive character. It is spatially diverse with steps and small level changes that form interesting areas. It also frames views towards the surrounding landscape.
The fully glazed building is designed to allow full daylight to come through. The wooden sticks also temper the bright light and help spread it evenly throughout the space for an ideal ambience as one browses through the roughly 10,000 copies of books, which this library can accommodate.
Li Xiaodong Atelier
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