Seashore Library

Vector Architects
Beidaihe, China

A cultural center designed to be a quality space where interaction between the sea and the human being becomes the centerpiece.

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In response to the massification and density of Chinese cities like Beijing, people are beginning to look for places outside urban cores, closer to nature, and hence this vacation complex in Bohai Bay, three hours by car from the city, featuring several cultural facilities. Vector Architects has contributed a quality space in the form of a library facing the sea. The design centers on the interrelation between spatial boundaries, the views of the ocean, ventilation, lighting, and the human being. Besides residents, the general public can use the library and enjoy its privileged waterfront location in spring, autumn, and winter.

Each room is thought out with the section as starting point, in a hierarchy in accordance with considerations like the entrance of light and the interaction between the sea and the space, a bond reinforced along the building’s longitudinal section. The interior is divided into a reading area, a meditation space, an activity room, a bar, and a resting area. Each of these five spaces engages with the sea in its own way, and the light coming in plays a central role. The roof expresses the building’s bond with the ocean and changes in form, depending on the activity housed inside.

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Reading area

The reading area presents stepped seating platforms facing a large window and some glass doors, so readers are able to enjoy views of the sea. When the weather is nice, the doors are opened, and the atmosphere outside fuses with the inside.

Above the window, a lattice beam hides behind a double skin of glass block masonry, which results in a play of artificial and natural light, producing ambience changes at different times of day. Perforations on the curved roof help ventilate the whole room.

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Meditation space

Next to the library area is this space which, in contrast, pursues the chiaroscuro effect through two slim openings that provide a more tenuous and focused illumination, making for a more private ambience.

The roof features a terrace that treats users to the sound of waves, but its curvature blocks views of the sea.

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Activity room

To keep noise out of the reading and meditation areas, the activity zone is set apart from them by a platform.

Two skylights bring in natural light, one from the east and the other from the west, ensuring a mix of warm and cold tonalities in the course of the day.

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