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Seashore Library

Seashore Library

Project Description

About three hours drive from Beijing, the library is located inside a vacation compound along Bohai Bay. While Beijing has been experiencing the massive growth in economy and city development, many have pointed out the issue of drop in living environment. The vacation compound aims to create a quality-living area closer to the nature. There are a series of cultural and leisure facilities within the compound, and Seashore Library is one of them.

The design key point is focused on exploring the co-existing relationship of the space boundary, the movement of human body, the shifting light ambience, the air ventilating through and the ocean view. The library faces the ocean to its east. During seasons of spring, summer and fall, it not only serves the community residents at west, but opens to the public as well.

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.


Seashore Library

  • Beidaihe New District
  • China
Completion: 2015
Used materials
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Concrete

Type of Building

Architect Office