The Library in Ice-Chrysanthemum Field / ATELIER XI
Text description provided by the architects. The Library is situated on a vast ice-chrysanthemum plantation at the foot of Yuntai Mountain. The architect was invited to design a multifunctional building for community use. It accommodates ice-chrysanthemum tea tasting, book reading, small-scale musical performances, workshops for agricultural education, and storage for farming tools.
Architecture as a Village. To avoid the imposition of a single large building on the flower field landscape, the architect divided the functions into five dispersed small cubic volumes. These interconnected yet relatively private cubic volumes not only prevent interference between different functions but also offer unobstructed views of the landscape from various directions while hosting different types of activities. The architecture, composed of distinct individual units, then resembles a miniature village. The exterior of each unit draws inspiration from the silhouette of local village houses, featuring sloping roofs as the traditional architectural style found in the area. With ascending ceilings oriented in various directions, the library fully captures the enchanting views on all sides of the flower field.
The architecture and the environment complement each other: the building’s spatial configuration serves as a container for observing the field, framing a picturesque view through windows. Simultaneously, the sculptural form of the building becomes an artistic backdrop to the vibrant blooms.
Scale of Time. The growth cycles of surrounding crops create a changing time scale with alternating seasons. The five units facing different directions capture the dynamic presentation of light throughout the day, turning the architectural space into a scale that traces the nuances of time across the boundless wilderness.
Architecture as Interconnected Voids. The exterior of the building is coated with white stucco paint, forming a minimalist and sculptural volume. The interior is composed of a series of interconnected, curved wooden spaces. Five curved wooden walls in each unit define areas between public and private, service, and service uses. These walls are wrapped in locally sourced wood, creating a warm color and texture that resonates with the delicate qualities of the ice chrysanthemums. The overall architecture is defined by local conditions. Separated yet connected, the spaces provide the flexibility for solitary roaming or group gatherings.
The tension between the building’s soft interior and its angular exterior brings about a distinctive experiential quality shifting from day to night: In daylight, the white gable walls evoke the image of a northern village settlement. While at night, the silhouette dissolves into the darkness, emphasizing the soft interior space and offering dreamlike warmth.