10. Dec 2014

Modest materials for grandiose effect

Photos: Li Xiaodong

The Huairou District is a mountainous rural area with a number of small towns and villages just a two-hour drive away from Peking/RC. Jiaojiehe, a village in the Huairou District, was the location chosen by the architects from Li Xiaodong Atelier for the Liyuan Library. The library building is situated in a wood a five-minute walk from the village centre. In order to underline the reference to the location the architects opted to combine natural materials, simple forms and sunlight. The two-storey rectangular building comprises 175 square metres of floor space. Thanks to the materials applied – in part twigs and small branches from local trees – the structure blends in with the wooded landscape. The architects were inspired by the site itself to opt for the natural materials available, which are otherwise used by the local community for firewood.

What first appear to be plain and simple facades consist, in fact, of a series of wooden frames. The twigs mounted in the frames give the facade its peculiar structure and provide protection against glare and heat. They also give rise to a natural interplay of light and shadow in the interior spaces. Window panes have been built into the frames on the inside. The library interior also features wood cladding: the overall feeling is one of calm and natural aesthetic.

The library and its surroundings remind visitors of the beauty of nature and the woodlands. The light and shadow effects enhance this impression. The twigs and branches are familiar to locals, but the innovative way they are applied is all the more inspiring.

Project team:

Client: Jiaojiehe Community, Huairou/RC
Architects: Li Xiaodong Atelier – Li Xiaodong, Liu Yayun, Huang Chenwen, Pan Xi (design team)


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