Qixian XiafangQiao City Library, Shaoxing, China by Leeko Studio

Create something integrated but also different through minimal intervention

Project Specs


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Minimally Invasive Revival of XiafangQiao Water Street



▼建筑外观,External view of the library ©章勇

Water Street is located in XiafangQiao District, Qixian, Shaoxing. It extends 800 meters from old steamer wharf in the east to the river bank of Longwang Bridge in the west, available for the trade and social life of local residents during the years the land transportationremained underdeveloped. In the era of the rapid urbanization, the water street is no longer as popular and important as it used to be, while more and more local population gets relocated. The water street has started to be hollowed out.

During the preliminary investigation, we found that the architectural style from the 1980s is well preserved in the water street, but the surrounding traffic conditions are not well organized and there is no adequate public functional space. Driven by the policy for “building beautiful villages and towns”, the Qixian Government advocates the initiatives to preserve the specific historical features and expects to renovate the old water street. With satisfactory facilities and clean environment, the local government hopes to improve living and working environment for urban residents in an effort to gradually realize the local urban revival.

▼改造前齐贤水街风貌,Water Street before renovation ©章勇


The city library is a new task assigned to us at the end of water street renovation. After deep conversation with the client, we decide to intervene by “minimally invasive surgery”. We will demolish several dilapidated buildings owned by the local government, and design brand-new ones to take the place. The reason we prefer new construction is that the cost of renovation is higher than that of making new buildings, and we have to do a good job with limited budget. In our design of new buildings, we pay close attention to the architectural style of old water street, which is well integrated into but somewhat different from the surrounding buildings. With the buildings fromdifferent times overlapped with each other, we try our best to create an unique humanistic style and impression of times to reshape a distinctive water street.

▼鸟瞰城市书房与周边环境,A bird’s-eye view of the city library and surrounding environment ©章勇

▼屋顶俯视,与周边建筑既融合又有差异,top view of the roof, integrated into the surrounding buildings with its own identity ©章勇

▼新老建筑交叠,Integration of new and old buildings ©章勇

▼居民视角里的城市书房,View to the library from the perspective of the residents ©章勇


Site limitation and space opportunities


The XiafangQiao city library serves three functions, i.e. library, cafe and large outdoor steps. The design of cafe and large outdoor steps was finalized in the early stage of water street renovation, and the library was added to the cafe in the final stage of the project.

▼建筑功能分区图,Architectural function analysis ©以靠建筑


On one side of the cafe and large outdoor steps is a small public square reserved in the limited space. In such a highly populated town, the public square for local residents is particularly important. The large outdoor steps neutralize the boundary between the library and the square. The square extends along the steps up to the second floor of the library, giving the library another entrance. The roof above the large steps between the library and the square is the extension of the reading room. It is designed to shelter you from the weather, and give you a place to enjoy the water street from a different perspective. The ceiling made of mirror stainless steel will reflect what happens in the square below, like a video recorder to record the daily life of local residents in water street.

▼水街上的城市书房,Library on the water street ©章勇

▼大屋顶和台阶形成水街生活空间,Living space on the water street created by the large roof and the steps ©章勇

▼屋顶反射广场中的活动,Roof reflecting the activities on the plaza ©章勇

▼大台阶近景,Closer view to the steps ©章勇


The library is built between the cafe and the adjacent buildings, with a gap from 2 to 7 meters. In order to present a spacious, bright and comfortable reading area in the extremely limited space, we decide not to design any partition wall and structural column in the library, only to divide the space layout by horizontal structure.

▼图书馆用地范围示意图,Plan diagram of land for library ©以靠建筑


At the main entrance to the library, we design a two-floor corridor in the gap between the library and the adjacent buildings. As a transitional space between the library and the street outside, the corridor not only provides a sense of ceremony, but also inspires the emotional transformation of readers before they enter into the spiritual world.

▼图书馆入口,Entrance of the library ©章勇

▼入口走道,Entrance corridor ©陈韵竹


In the library, the continuity of horizontal space and the permeability of vertical space is helpful to expand the originally cramped space in visual sense. The steel circular corridor decorated by tempered glass and LED panel lights makes the two-floor space equally illuminated and suitable for reading. For the space on the second floor of library, we also try to break the boundary limit of horizontal space and vertical space in our design. For example, the handrail of the corridor is bent to expand the circulation space.

▼宽敞明亮的阅读空间,Spacious and bright reading area ©章勇

▼LED面板灯提供均匀的照明,LED panel lights providing uniform illumination ©章勇

▼阅览空间中设有不同座位,Various seatings in the reading area ©章勇

▼空间细部,Space details ©章勇


Library in use


The interior space of library can be divided into two floors by two circular corridors. The lighting well in the roof above the cantileveredcorridor allows for natural light to enter the library so the space is likely to appear more spacious and bright. Beneath the golden copper-plated aluminum plate, the visitors often blurt out “There is a golden house in the book”.

▼二层回廊和屋顶采光筒,Circular corridors on the second floor and lighting well in the roof ©章勇

▼仰视采光筒,Look up at the lighting well ©章勇

▼材料细部,material details ©章勇


The spacious space without columns on the first floor is designed for lectures, conferences and other events. Meanwhile, the second floor is more attractive to local primary and high school students. They would like to read, study and even stay here as if the cantilevered corridors and embedded seats on the second floor arouse an aspiration for adventure from their heart[1] .

▼二层儿童图书室,Children’s reading room on the second floor ©章勇

▼咖啡馆,Cafe ©章勇


After being open to the public, the large steps under the mirror canopy, just like what we imagine, becomes an ideal place for local residents to relax in cool breeze and have a good time in chat[2] . During daytime, it is the living room open to the public. On the weekends and in the evenings, the local government will play outdoor movies here, and the local residents will gather together to form a community public cinema with the city library in the background.

▼夕阳下的城市图书馆,City library in the dusk ©章勇

▼夜景,露天电影,Night view, plaza used as outdoor cinema ©陈韵竹

项目名称: 齐贤下方桥城市书房
项目地点:中国 绍兴
事务所网站: http://www.leekostudio.com/
主创建筑师: 李以靠


Project name: Qixian XiafangQiao City Library
Project category: Architecture/renovation/interior
Project location: Shaoxing , China
Architects: Leeko Studio
Website: http://www.leekostudio.com/
Design team: Li Yikao (chief architecture designer), Chen Yunzhu, Xue Xin, Wu Wenjun, Xu Yuqing, Guan Jian, Liang Yao (model)

Client: Qixian Town Government
Status: Completed
Time of completion: December 2019
Building area: 521 square meters
Lighting design: Pang Lei
Photographs: Zhang Yong, Chen Yunzhu

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