In an earthquake-ravaged village in the Yunnan Province of China, architects John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere designed the Pinch library; a wave-roofed community center that doubles as a play structure and a memorial to the September 2012 natural disaster. The project was selected for the Small Project of the Year award at the 2014 World Architecture Festival as well as the coveted Best of the Best Trophy at the 2014 Architecture and Design Trophy Awards.
When officials discovered that the new government-funded plaza in Shuanghe village remained empty a year after the earthquake, the University of Hong Kong stepped in to sponsor a library. Backing up to a 13-foot-tall retaining wall, the community center was designed as a bridge between the rebuilt village and the memorial plaza. Lin and Ottevaere emphasized the project’s location—a remote valley in southwest China—by devising a twisting structure that rises to a peak, mimicking the nearby mountains. The rooftop welcomes residents and their children to read, play, and enjoy the view of the new basketball court and the surrounding valley.
A series of trusses lined with timber and a layer of aluminum waterproofing is anchored between the upper road and lower plaza. Inside, the trusses support a hovering bookshelf made from interlocking timber frames. School benches supply seating, while polycarbonate plastic doors open up to the plaza. To foster a knowledge exchange, the design team worked with a local timber company to learn about regional woods and construction techniques. Rather than abandon wood after the earthquake like the new housing blocks did, the Pinch Library reimagined its possibilities, creating an award-winning memorial library that rose above the rubble.
Photos courtesy of the University of Hong Kong