Like a fort in the forest, Li Xiaodong's beautiful Liyuan Library is covered in rustic branches. Located in a wooded region just outside of Beijing, the glass structure is protected from the sun by a brise soleil made of natural timber that that seamlessly blends the building into the surrounding landscape. The library just won the first edition of the Moriyama Prize, which was established by Canada's RAIC to rival the Pritzker and Stirling prizes.
The library, which is located in the tiny village of Huairou, gives the local villagers a serene reading space as well as access to reading materials. Li Xiaodong wanted to create a place conducive to quiet contemplation, so they chose this spot outside of the village close to the neighboring mountains.
The architects sought to harmonize the new building in respect to its natural surroundings and the nearby village. The timber sticks were chosen as a material because many village homes had them piled in their yards to be used as firewood for cooking stoves.
A gridded glass shell was constructed, with square supports framing each section. After being inlayed with fully glazed glass, the locally sourced sticks were affixed within the square frames.The timber sticks filter daylight, while blocking harsh sun and solar gain. Wooden shelves, seating, and steps integrate the interior, creating flexible spaces for sitting, reading and stacking books.
The stick-clad exterior creates a familiar structure for the villages by evoking materials found on their own properties, as well as the gorgeous native landscape of the region.