This project is a modest addition to the small village of Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing, just under a two hours drive from busy Beijing urban life.
On the one hand, it forms a modern programmatic complement to the village by adding a small library and reading space within a setting of quiet contemplation. On the other hand, we wanted to use architecture to enhance the appreciation of the natural landscaping qualities.
So instead of adding a new building inside the village center, we chose this particular site in the nearby mountains, a pleasant five minute walk from the village center. In doing so, we could provide a setting of clear thoughts when one consciously takes the effort to head for the reading room.
Because of the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding nature, our intervention is modest in its outward expression. We can’t compete with nature’s splendor. The building blends into the landscape through the delicate choice of materials and the careful placement of the building volume. Especially the choice of material is crucial in blending with the regional characteristics. After analyzing the local material characteristics in the village, we found large amounts of locally sourced wooden sticks piled around each house. The villagers gather these sticks all year round to fuel their cooking stoves. Thus we decided to use this ordinary material in an extraordinary way, cladding the building in familiar textures in a way that is strikingly sensitive.
The inside of the building has a very expressive character though; its interior is spatially diverse by using steps and small level changes to create distinct places. It frames views towards the surrounding landscape and acts as an embracing shelter. The building is fully glazed to allow for a fully daylit space. The wooden sticks temper the bright light and spread it evenly throughout the space to provide for a perfect reading ambience.
Architect: Li Xiaodong/Atelier
Team: Li Xiaodong, Liu Yayun, Huang Chenwen, Pan Xi
Location: Jiaojiehe Village, Huairou County, Beijing, China
Floor area: 175 m2
Client: Jiaojiehe Village
Construction period: March 2011 - Oct 2011
Construction cost: RMB 1,050,000 (US$168,000)
Commissioning donors: Luke Him Sau Charitable Trust and Pan Xi