Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong


Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

Architect Li Xiaodong has completed a library in China that's covered in firewood.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

Located on the outskirts of Beijing, the single-storey Liyuan Library houses its collection of books within a chunky timber frame.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

Stepped platforms integrate low level shelves and provide seating areas for readers.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

The sticks cover a glazed shell that encases the library.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

We've also featured a library in Japan with an exterior of timber bookshelves covered by glass and another in Germany with a golden facade - see more stories about libraries here.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

Photography is by Li Xiaodong

Here's some more text from Li Xiaodong:

Liyuan Library

This project is 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.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

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.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

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 daylight space. The wooden sticks temper the bright light and spread it evenly throughout the space to provide for a perfect reading ambience.

Liyuan Library by Li Xiaodong

Architect: Li Xiaodong/Atelier
Team: Li Xiaodong; Liu Yayun; Huang Chenwen; Pan Xi
Location: Jiaojiehe village, Huairou county, Beijing, China
Floor area: 175 sqm
Client: Jiaojiehe village
Construction period: Mar 2011 - Oct 2011

  • richard

    would love to see the great bonfire when one of china's emperor burned all the books!

    • Ronald

      Are you referring to Qin Shi Huang. They kept one copy of all the books they burned and placed them in a palace library to limit knowledge to a select few. After the death of the first emperor, Xiang Yu initiated a rebellion and during the siege of the palace, the library was burned down.

  • Such a beautiful space! I can imagine the sounds being really calming to fit in with the surrounding. I would love to visit and experience this place.

  • The quality of the space is fantastic, just look at the lighting <3

  • What happens when it rains?

    • Edd

      "sticks cover a glazed shell that encases the library"

      … Seriously, it has to be more effort to type the comment than to read the few lines of text!

    • ArcAlign

      According to Wikipedia, " it is the condensation of atmospheric water vapour into drops of water heavy enough to fall, often making it to the (earth's) surface."

  • kdv


    there is glazing behind the wood cladding…

  • nico

    ^ what? did you not read the description? come on people. read before you comment

  • mik

    how long are the branches going to last?

  • 严谨烟火!books, timbers,wooden sticks…… Watch out the FIRE.!

  • mike

    must glow like a bonfire at night!! would be cool to see.

  • Sally

    I love it – what space- what atmosphere.

  • Chris

    This is a unique project that is sensitive in its response to the environment and locality. With all due respect to freedom of expression, some of these comments posted here are just plain dumb and ignorant. Bonfire, Chinese emperors, what happens when it rains etc etc… all begs the reply of "duh!!!" and "if you have nothing "constructive, insightful, funny or critical" to share, don't say anything and you might still be considered to be wise.

  • Bodil

    Looks fantastic, but I can't help wondering about the practicalities of cleaning the outside of the glass behind the stick panels. This would start to get murky within a year and from a project architect's point of view, even if the stick panels are removable it would still be quite an undertaking to maintain the building long term.

    • Rui

      Probably less of an undertaking that maintaining a big university library. Like the ones that are currently going under in the University of California system.