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Bookshop in a Paddy Field, Trace Architecture Office, Photo: Zhuo Yuxing

A Screen-Covered Box: Bookshop in a Paddy Field

Like a box, the remains of this old house now hold a new construction of concrete and steel that is nearly completely concealed within. In a dialogue between contemporary architecture and tradition, the new building shows consideration for the landscape and the historical village.

The main supporting structure is formed by two walls of reinforced concrete that fold to the sides as they rise. At the corners a projecting ceiling slab, also of reinforced concrete, lies halfway up the lateral rammed-earth walls of the existing structure, thus creating the first upper level. The fold in the main walls above defines the ceiling. Daylight falls into the introverted reading room through a gap along the edge of each fold. A small theatre extends between two stepped bookshelves. A café on the west side juts over the wall of the old house, offering guests an unforgettable view of the village and the paddy fields.

At the centre of the building, a steel column penetrates the concrete structure. It bears a shallow saddle roof that resembles a screen and is reminiscent of the original roof of the house. This works to create a half-open, sheltered space that affords a captivating panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. The loads of the entire roof are transferred to the steel supports that direct them to the building’s centre of gravity. Four trough-shaped diagonal ties at the corners provide lateral stability and channel rainwater to the inward-sloping concrete ceiling slab beneath the roof. Rainwater from all directions can collect in the courtyard at the centre of the space. This corresponds to the concept of Si Shui Gui Tang, which is traditional to Chinese architecture and is said to bring good luck and wealth.

Further Information:

Planning of structural framework: Zhigang

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DETAIL 9/2021

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