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Li Xiaodong’s Liyuan library

Liyuan Library in China. Design by Li Xiaodong, 2011. Photo: Li Xiaodong


The architect Li Xiaodong completed the new Liyuan library  – a building covered in firewood.

The Liyuan library designed by the Chinese office of Li Xiaodong, situated in Jiaojiehe village in the region of Beijing, China, was recently completed.

Liyuan Library is located at a site in the mountains close to the village center. Design by Li Xiaodong


The small, 175 m2 single-story building is intended to provide a modern programmatic complement to the village by adding a small library with a selection of books and a quiet, contemplative reading space. In addition the architects aimed to “use architecture to enhance the appreciation of the natural landscaping qualities”. Their intention was to provide “a setting of clear thoughts when one consciously takes the effort to head for the reading room”. Consequently Li Xiaodong chose a site in the mountains close to the village, instead of adding a new building inside the village center.

The Liyuan library was constructed by Li Xiaodong as a chunky timber frame structure that is enclosed with glass that is then in turn surrounded with sticks of firewood.

The architects explain: “The building blends into the landscape through the delicate choice of materials and the careful placement of the building volume. Especially the choice of material is crucial in blending with the regional characteristics. After analyzing the local material characteristics in the village we found large amounts of locally sourced wooden sticks piled around each house. The villagers gather these sticks all year round to fuel their cooking stoves. Thus we decided to use this ordinary material in an extraordinary way, cladding the building in familiar textures in a way that is strikingly sensitive.”

Interior view of the Liyuan library. Design by Li Xiaodong. Photo: Li Xiaodong


The building’s interior is stepped in platforms that integrate low-level shelves and provide seating areas for readers. The intention of Li Xiaodong was to create distinct places that act as an embracing shelter and frame the view of the surrounding landscape.


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DETAIL 12/2019
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