崖居山村的平民图书馆 | Public Library & Bookstore in a Cliff-Surrounded Hollowing out Village
▼崖居聚落形态，the distinct cliff settlement form ©侯博文
▼远观图书馆，a distant view ©侯博文
There are about one million villages disappeared in last 20 years as China’s fast urbanization process, Young people leave for big cities, thousands of hollowing out rural villages facing the fate of dismantling. This renovation project took place in China’s southeastern inland area that is dominated by hills. Unique cultural and geographical conditions have fostered the development of the distinct cliff settlement form as represented in the Chenjiapu, one of the hollowing out villages, right where the project lied. The exclusive regional characteristics were the essential dimensions considered for the project, with material selection strictly abiding the local principles, and the degree of openness to nature being prudently handled.
▼图书馆屋顶鸟瞰，aerial view ©侯博文
▼建筑外观，exterior view ©侯博文
工匠传统 | The Tradition of Craftsmanship
The renovation project was conducted on the basis of an old site of the villagers’ Hall, It took the form of a 11 X 18m two-story space. A box were added in the building’s southwest corner, including the terrace with view on it’s top. The previously closed hall structure have now become more open to correspond with the openness of the surrounding landscape. Right at the very center inside the building, a suspended semi-transparent box lies under the skylight, forming a “container” of subtle natural lighting and thus becomes a focus point within the internal space. The functional theme of “meditation” that is highlighted at this point culminates the expected solemn and ceremonial atmosphere at the library.
▼半透明的盒体悬浮在内部空间的正中心，a suspended semi-transparent box becomes a focus point within the internal space ©侯博文
▼“冥想”空间成为图书馆仪式感的顶点，the functional theme of “meditation” that is highlighted at this point culminates the expected solemn and ceremonial atmosphere at the library ©侯博文
▼“冥想”空间内部，interior view ©侯博文
▼天花板细部，ceiling view ©侯博文
A small amount of fully-transparent or semi-transparent materials, such as glass and solar panel, serve as the background of the traditional wooden structures. The spatial division and organization still exist and is reinforced by the distinct forms and contrasts with the traditional materials. Such new materials as metal, glass, and concrete are expressed as abstract geometrical surfaces. The existence and contrasts among plaster, logs, and hemp ropes has also been intensified. The secondary linking members of the previous wooden roof trusses has been greatly increased, forming a gentle and profound interface over the top, leaving the impression of a gradually diminishing boundary. The design has been carefully considered to almost completely inherit the external features of the building, except for the 3x3m glass box at the southwest corner. The new design has balanced the dramatic effects of the internal light and the external landscape in a restrained way. The new library, the old hall, and the even more archaic village community, has altogether formed a continuously growing cultural spirit and existence of the settlement.
▼灰泥、原木、麻绳等材料展现出强烈的物质性，the existence and contrasts among plaster, logs, and hemp ropes was intensified in the structure ©侯博文
阅读空间 | Reading Space
As a small public library in the village, and a rural bookshop that its operator —— Librairie Avant-Garde —— is hoping to present, The layout of the building’s internal axes, together with the seemingly-dynamic, vertically wavy pattern formed by the three independent staircases, creates the complexity between vision and the experience of intra-dimensional accessibility, tranquility and openness, as well as the sense of containment and transparency.
▼首层平面图，ground floor plan
The frameless glass openings on the, casting images of the pass-by villagers and shadow from the street lights. At the end of the entrance corridor is now a terraced reading space, along one side are large windows that opens directly to the view of the valleys. This is also where public events and shares of thoughts take place. Famous writers and poets like Ayi and Yu Xiuhua shared their stories with tourists and villagers. Visitors can go upstairs to the outside viewing terrace, which is also one of the best viewing point of the hilly scenery. The other two traffic flow paths are the straight staircase leading to the suspending meditation space at the center of the space, and the functional path that links the coffee area and two meeting area.
▼主入口正对一个通高的宽阔走廊，the double-height entrance corridor ©侯博文
▼转过走廊的尽头是阶梯状的阅读空间， at the end of the entrance corridor is now a terraced reading space ©侯博文
▼沿台阶阅读座位一侧的建筑实墙上开出面对峡谷的大窗，large windows along the terrace open directly to the view of the valleys ©侯博文
▼拾阶而上到达突出建筑之外的观景平台，visitors can go upstairs to the outside viewing terrace, which is also one of the best viewing point of the hilly scenery ©侯博文
Although each of the spaces for browsing, reading, or communication, has its clear and definite enclosing boundaries ,the design of the entire space is still capable of maintaining the transparency of dialogues between readers and nature, between readers and space, as well as among readers.
▼阅读空间的窗景，view of the reading area ©侯博文
公共性 | Publicity
Librairie Avant-Garde is a thriving urban library bookshop operator in Nanjing with a good number of loyal readers. In recent years, in order to carry out its responsibility of cultural transmission and also for the purpose of brand innovation, Librairie Avant-Garde has continuously invested in the construction of libraries and bookstores to activate the value of hollowing out rural villages and expand the publicity of urban-rural interactions. The bookstore is not only a public infrastructure for decreasing residing in the village to rest and study, but also a space that looks to bring unique reading experience to the general customers. The result of the combination of the two functions is a new type of public space. By following the theme of “folk-custom encyclopedias” in its book collections, and in combination with not only the sales of products representing the traditional culture and local creative craftsmanship, but also the regularly-held poems and literary seminars, this space has firmly established itself as a generally-recognized attraction to the villagers and tourists, as well as a bridge between the urban and rural areas in a much broader context. The architect’s mission was to create a uniquely suitable platform for this vivid scene —— to utilize the Avant-Garde Chenjiapu bookshop as the window towards visualizing this wonderful sight, presenting tourists and villagers with different perspectives of the village, the nature, and the world.
▼朝巷道打开的落地窗，a large window opens to the alley of the village ©侯博文
The bookshop has achieved unexpected success since is opening in mid August. This remote village, which is over 800 meters above sea-level and takes a three-hour drive from the nearest big city, has received hundreds of guests from afar daily, and a stable daily income of over ten thousand yuan, which is far beyond the expectation of the founder of Librairie Avant-Garde, Qian Xiaohua. Librairie Avant-Garde regularly invites famous writers and poets to the library for events. A folk house in the village has been renovated to accommodate the guest writers and poets. Such a small renovation project has injected new vitality and impetus to the supposedly-isolated Chenjiapu Village and will definitely change the future of this remote place, and even the county to which it is located in the southern Zhejiang Province – Songyang- at large.
▼山村远景，village view ©侯博文
▼山雾中的图书馆，library in the mountain mist ©侯博文
▼首层平面图，ground floor plan
▼二层平面图，first floor plan
Project: Librairie Avant-Garde,Chenjiapu Civilian Bookstore
Location: Songyang，Zhejiang Province
Total floor area：338m
Design Organization：AZL Architects
Architect：Zhang Lei, Qi Wei
Design team: Ma Haiyi，Hong Siyao
Photographer: Hou Bowen