This cast-concrete library sits on a stretch of deserted beach facing the East China Sea and features a tiered reading hall topped by a curving ceiling (+ movie).
Beijing studio Vector Architects built the aptly named Seashore Library on the white sands of a beach in Nandaihe, a coastal region in eastern China.
A tiered reading room occupies the centre of the two-storey library, while a meditation space, activity room, and bar occupy auxiliary areas around its edges.
The cast in-situ concrete walls are imprinted with the grain of their timber formwork – influenced by the rippled markings left behind on the sand by the wind and water.
"It implies a mark of memory in time," said the architects. "Wood grains are the marks of realisation process that we want to leave on the library. Also, it softens the hardness of concrete with warmth."
"From outside, it looks like a weathered rock that is pure and solid; but inside, what it contains is the rich feelings and experiences," they added. "When walking into the space, one starts to feel the light, breezes, and sound of the ocean. In here, everyone can slow down the usual pace, and unfold the feeling of distance and loneliness different from the city life."
Timber floorboards that resonate with the board-marked walls cover the terraced reading area and an L-shaped platform that brackets the space at the upper level.
Seating and study areas arranged on the stepped levels like the stalls of a theatre face a glazed wall that overlooks the sea.
"The ocean is an ever-changing character and continues to alter from season to season, morning to night," said the design team. "It is like a drama play of nature. As if giving the stage to this character of the ocean, we piled up seating platforms raised toward the back, so that everyone has an unblocking view to the stage."
A curving concrete ceiling patterned with small circular openings arches over the reading room. The holes allow light and air to filter into the space, while a row of small slanted oval windows run along the back wall.
Pivoting glass doors along the ground level to open the reading room to the beach. A panoramic window and section of glass brickwork set above these doors provide varying degrees of natural lighting for the upper-floor space.
While the sea-facing aspect is predominantly glazed, slabs of concrete and strips of laminated timber dominate the facade looking inland.
A passage is cut through one side of the block, providing access from the rear of the site. A cast-concrete flap that projects from the wall of this underpass is propped at an angle by a metal pole to shade a second floor window.
A dimly lit meditation room with a concave concrete ceiling sits to one side of the brightly lit upper floor. Two narrow openings – one horizontal and one vertical – light the space from the east and west to capture the subdued light of sunrise and sunset.
A glass door opens onto a wedge-shaped terrace where a flight of stairs ascends to a concave roof terrace. Within the hollow rooftop, the sound of the ocean can be heard but the water is out of sight.
An activity room with its own private balcony occupies an angled concrete box on the other side of the triangular terrace. Horizontal lightwells in the east and west walls illuminate the space throughout the day.
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