Suspended Mountain Book House
Project NameSuspended Book House in the Mountains of China, by Shulin Architectural Design
zhao yilong, chen lin
Photographer Detailszhao yilong, chen lin
Chinese Studio Shulin Architectural Design has opted for a translucent finish to its book house in a remote mountain village in China. The building appears to levitate, raised up on timber columns, and lighting up the town like a soft paper lantern. Surrounded by historic rammed earth houses, the book house perches near the town square, creating a new public landmark for the ageing village.
The book house is aimed at creating a peaceful reading environment for local residents, whilst promoting more young people to return to, or stay in the mountain village. The design philosophy was to create a colourful and quiet place where children and elderly people can feel freedom and happiness. Rural architecture is about creating a harmony between people, animals and environment; a harmony the architects considered in every stage of design.
The suspended second floor allows free travel beneath the building, and encourages passersby to stop and rest beneath the structure. Given the small and delicate nature of the village, limiting the buildings footprint and stimulating movement through the town centre was an important consideration. A chasm, or atrium, through the centre of the building allows light and nature to pass through. A small pool has been placed below the opening, allowing rain to slowly drip down into the catchment.
The form is a simple modern reinvention of the old Chinese village homes. The historic shape is raised off the ground by 10 engineered timber structural columns placed on steel footings. Then, the roof is parted to form a translucent skylight, and the rammed earth replaced with translucent panels. This limits both the buildings physical footprint, and it’s visual bulk in an otherwise low-lying housing environment. Unlike the symmetrical roof angles of the village homes, the book house has a slightly skewed roof pitch, which creates variation in volumes throughout the interior.
The lower floor includes a semi outdoor reading space which includes a small water bar for refreshments, a water feature, and undercover outdoor area surrounded by the columns. The second floor houses a physically closed, but creatively open space, which features an array of bookshelves, and a children’s play area. This encourages people of all ages to visit, allowing parents to read and still watch their children close by.
The translucent panels make up most of the cladding, creating an aura of peaceful ambience within a closed structure. The bookshelves form a cohesive material language with the structural elements of the building, blending structure with design. Bay windows form seats for readers, while allowing glimpses of the mountainous countryside beyond. The plan has deliberately included many layers of transparency. Book cases act as barriers which in turn form corridors, reading spaces and little nooks. Each space is cosy and seperate but linked through sight. The result is a myriad of layered space.
The second floor is connected to the outside via an external staircase, also clad in translucent material.