Compiled by Pari Syal
Photography: Courtesy the architect
'Small Project of the Year 2014' award by World Architecture Festival goes to the new library building designed by architects Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin - as a rehabilitation response to China’s 2012 earthquake that doubles up as a community centre and a physical memorial…
THE PINCH is a library and community centre in Shuanghe Village, Yunnan Province, China. The project is part of a government led reconstruction effort after an earthquake in September 2012.
With the majority of village houses destroyed in the aftermath of the earthquake, leaving the residents living in tents for up to one year, the government has sponsored new concrete and brick houses and a large central plaza.
The University of Hong Kong too decided to sponsor the design and implementation of a new library building. Located in the new but empty public plaza, it proposes to serve to activate the community and provide a physical memorial for the event.
The site of the library is against a 4 metre high retaining wall and its design spans across this level difference acting as a bridge between the rebuilt village and the new memorial plaza. Emphasizing its location in a remote mountain valley, the design responds visually to the space of the valley, offering stunning views across a dramatic double curved roof. The structure itself rises to a peak, a monument to the earthquake and rebuilding effort.
As a Knowledge Exchange Project, the construction involves collaboration with a local timber manufacturing factory and the process has resulted in the development of a surprisingly diverse form through simple means. A series of trusses are anchored between the upper road level and lower plaza level. The form of each truss changes to create both a gradual incline (to bring people down) and then a sharp upward pitch (to elevate the roof). The trusses are covered in an aluminium waterproofing layer and timber decking.
In the interior, the trusses extend downward to support a floating bookshelf. Simple traditional school benches are used as chairs and the polycarbonate doors can open to create a completely open space extending out to the plaza