Vector Architects . photos: © Su Shengliang . © Xia Zhi
As the sky dims, cloud is dazzling in purple blue. Within a glimpse, it vanished. Ocean is in charcoal gray. The wave paddles to the sand with a rhythm that you can almost hear. It’s a resonate sound that travels deep and far. The sea breeze leaves its footprint onto the sand land, creating ripples of air waves. An old boat sits half-sunken under the sand, as if it has harbored here for years. There are few tarred down small houses used to be fishermen’s shelter. The leftover shingles and broken walls enclose space in dark. Through the dilapated openings on the wall, look out, is the sea in stillness, like paintings hanging upon the wall.
At that moment, we envision the future library should also be quietly sitting on the seashore. From outside, it looks like a weathered rock that is pure and solid; but inside, what it contains is the rich feelings and experiences. When walking into the space, one starts to feel the light, breezes, and sound of the ocean. What comes after the perception is the unique spiritual linkage between each individual and the sea. In here, everyone can slow down the usual pace, and unfold the feeling of distant and loneliness different from the city life.
The design began with section. The library houses a reading area, a meditation space, activity room, a drinking bar and a resting area. According to each space, we establish distinctive relationship between space and the ocean; define how light and wind enters into each room.
– Reading Area Ocean, an ever-changing character continues to alter from season to season, morning to night. It is like a drama play of nature. As if giving the stage to this character of ocean, we pile up seating platforms raised toward the back, so that everyone has an unblocking view to the stage. Toward the sea, the building is enclosed by a series of operable glass walls at ground level. When the weather is nice, the walls are open to the sea directly connecting inside and outside. On top of these pivot walls is a horizontal view window that goes across the library; it is the main framing of sea view. To avoid interruption from any structural component, all the roof loads are carried by the steel trusses running above the view window. On both sides of steel trusses, we infill hand-crafted glass block masonries into wall. The wall softens the hardness of steel trusses. Furthermore, the translucency of such material is sensitive to light. It transforms both natural and artificial light to inside and outside throughout different time of the day, smoothly changing the ambience of the building.
The half-arched roof opens toward the sea and implies the main subject of the space. Meanwhile, the curvature allows wide span running both north-south and east-west directions. Several 30cm diameter circular openings are inserted and array on the roofing structure. They can be open when the weather is allowed, and help to ventilate indoor air. During three seasons of the year – spring, summer and fall, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm every day, sunlight would stream through those narrow air passage ways and project light spots inside and meandering through space with time shift.
– Meditation Space The meditation space is sitting aside from reading area. In contrast to the reading area that is bright, evenly distributed light, open and public, meditation space is rather dimmed, sharp of light and shadows, enclosed and private. There are two slim openings, 30cm wide, on east and west side of the room. One is horizontal and one in vertical; one captures the light of sunrise and the other grasps the sunset illumination. In this room, a drastic roof curved pushes the ceiling down low. Above this curve, it creates a low terrace to the roof top. At this area, people hear the sound of ocean, though the vision is out of reach.
– Activity Room Activity room is a fairly isolated space. Due to potential event and sound, it is being separated from reading area with an outdoor platform in between. The light well on the roof facing east and the clear story at west collect lights throughout the day from different directions. Warm and cold light overlap and tint the space simultaneously.
If we slice through the building along the north-south long axis, we can see how each space elaborates itself with ocean distinctively. And the movement and memory of human body together choreograph series of experience.
During the construction phase, we worked with a local construction team and our biggest challenge was wood form poured-in-place concrete. The use of wood form was inspired by the sand marks of foot prints, wind and wheels on site. It implies a mark of memory in time that can be read as a poem. Wood grains are the marks of realization process that we want to leave on the library. Also, it softens the hardness of concrete with warmth.
Challenges came one after another. How do we keep those wood grains visible and even touchable? How do we create the concrete color we want? How do we avoid flaws such as leaking, cracking, and air bubbles? Those are crucial challenges we faced while working with construction team. We tested mock-ups of concrete wall three times to ensure the final quality. Each time, we made progress but also found new problems to be resolved. We continuously confront with much unknown and exploration throughout the entire procedure. Every construction is an indescribable given fate, with a premise of dedication and diligence from each party involved.
Location: Nandaihe, China Client: Beijing Rocfly Investment (Group) CO., LTD Design Firm：Vector Architects Principal Architect: Gong Dong Project Architect: Chen Liang Site Architect: Yifan Zhang, Dongping Sun Design Team: Zhiyong Liu, Hsi Chao Chen, Hsi Mei Hsieh Structure: Concrete Structure Material: Concrete, Laminated Bamboo Slate, Glass Block Building Area: 450 M2 Design Period: 02/2014- 07/2014 Construction Period: 07/2014- 04/2015