Landscape and Materiality in the New China

Luca Molinari 

A free-standing building made of wood, glass, and reinforced concrete looks out at the infinite sea in front of it. It has been built with harmonious proportions and elementary geometries. From the rear it is protected but allows the viewer to imagine the inner section while the front opens wide towards the horizon and the expanse of blue sea and sky. The images suggest an absolute place, out of time, resistant yet without arrogance, an inhabitant of a virgin land in which the dialogue between Nature and architecture is clear and well defined.

The building is called the Seashore Library and was built in 2014 in Hebei province, facing Bohai Bay and a few hundred kilometers from the capital Beijing, a city of twenty million inhabitants.It is an alienating icon for us Westerners because it does not correspond to any of the picture postcards established in recent decades and represented by a metropolis which has experienced huge growth with no relation to the surrounding country’s millennary history and human scale. The structure has now been reached by a new city and has lost that idea of magical isolation that it generated in its first visitors, but its media success and above all the widespread appreciation by the population show an interesting change in Chinese social sensitivity, increasingly interested in experiences in which widespread quality is at the center of life. Yet this work, designed by Vector Architects, has quickly become one of the representative images of the new direction that contemporary Chinese architecture is taking, and of the relevance it is gaining on the international scene thanks to a new generation of authors, creative professionals who are rapidly establishing themselves both inside and outside the country...[+]

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