Camouflage wood stick library

The architects of the Li Xiaodong Atelier have completed a unique designed library, the Liyuan Library, in China that’s covered in firewood. it’s an example of a new construction using local sustainable materials and with a design that fits perfectly into the local landscape.

Quiet and contemplative reading nook with views to the mountains (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

The beautiful path from the village of Jiaojiehe, Huairou county China that leads to the Liyuan Library (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

Located on the outskirts of Beijing, the single-story Liyuan Library houses its collection of books within a thick timber frame. Stepped platforms integrate low level shelves and provide comfortable seating areas for readers and visitors. The wooden sticks cover a glazed shell that encases the library. The wooden sticks are used as bright light absorbers and spread it evenly throughout the space to provide the perfect reading ambiance.

The comfortable, well designed and relaxing interior of the library (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

The Liyuan Library is a project that 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.

Bundled sticks used to heat villagers stoves were collected as the raw facade material (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

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.

Rows of sticks conceal the glazed interior, the entry elevation recedes into the surrounding nature (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

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 wonderful mountains and impressive nature encompass the library, everything is in perfect harmony (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

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.

Stepped interior design with integrated shelving for books and many place to sit or lay down to read a book (© photo by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

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 ambiance.

The complete site plan of the library (© Image by Li Xiaodong Atelier).

Source: / Li Xiaodong Atelier

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There are 7 comments

  1. Désirée

    Too much of a box to fit in, I think. Looked good on the inside – a library could be a box without problems, right? The outside though was not very camouflaged though. Perhaps with time?

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