Readers’ house by Atelier Diameter

The most warmhearted temporary building in 2020

Project Specs


非常感谢 上海中森止境设计工作室 予gooood分享以下内容。更多请至:Atelier Diameter on gooood 
Appreciations towards Atelier Diameter for providing the following description:


In October 2020, in the very autumn when the post-epidemic pain and anxiety were subsiding, three small, light wooden houses were erected in the city centers of Beijing, Wuhan and Xiamen almost instantaneously, and what happened in the following weeks attracted the attention of millions of people on the Internet.

▼视频,video ©朗读者



This is the scene of the “72-hour new media” live broadcast of the third season of CCTV’s “The Reader”, which was carefully planned and implemented by the CCTV team. In the three cities separated by thousands of miles between the north and the south, three wooden houses stood in three public places with special intentions: The South Square of the National Library in Beijing, the Hankou Jiangtan Park in Wuhan, and the Zengcuo An Binhai Music Square in Xiamen. These three wooden houses witnessed the moment when hundreds of ordinary citizens picked up their books and read their hearts out, witnessing their pain and comfort, joy and memories, courage and hope; meanwhile, they also touched the hearts and minds of countless people online.

The live broadcast last 3 days, and the houses were open to the public for the subsequent 2 weeks. In total, 672 people entered the reading space, 15,736,000 viewers joined in the live streaming,   the video was viewed by 61,095,000 times, and the related Weibo topics hit 820 million readings. These data seem to have nothing to do with professional behavior from an architect’s perspective. However, given that this group of temporary buildings that were designed, built, used and then dismantled in less than two months, whilst obtained such a high density of use and attention, some thinking should be raising beyond professional skills.



▼外观,overview ©谢金容

▼广场视角,view from the square ©谢金容


武汉 | WUHAN

▼面江日景,facing the river © Owen

▼入口,entrance © Owen


厦门 | Xiamen

▼面海,seaward © 陈旸

▼海岸回望,look back from the beach © 陈旸


1. 装配式木结构差不多是唯一的选择。快速建造的严格限时要求只能采用装配式构件搭建,但对场地现状严禁破坏以及施工期间禁明火禁噪声的要求,还有极短的构件加工允许周期,基本上把装配钢结构的可能性排除掉。当然钢构的冷峻特性也不支持对朗读空间书卷气质的设定。

exploded axonometric diagram ©止境设计工作室

For the sake of a smooth broadcast of the program, we have to quickly find a balance between the basic requirements of uses, technical feasibility, time schedule and economy. This is, after all, a small house with a simple space and little technical difficulty, but it is certain special requirements and constraints that make the communication and discussion about technical feasibility crucial and intensively accompany the project throughout:

1. Assembled wood construction was pretty much the only option. The strict time limit for rapid construction required that using assembled components will be the only way out. Then, the strict prohibition of damage to the current state of the site and also the prohibition of open fires and noise during construction, as well as the extremely short allowable time for component processing, basically ruled out the possibility of assembled steel structures. Let alone that the cold nature of steel structure also does not support the setting of the bookish temperament of the reading space.

▼装配式木结构,Assembled wood construction © 陈旸

▼开放立面,the open facade © 陈旸

▼室内空间,interior view © 陈旸

2. 正常中空玻璃幕墙的生产加工已无可能,用PC板(亚克力板)替代也是无奈的选择。期间也尝试用双层中空PC板来解决隔热节能以及平整度问题,以及设若干玻璃开启窗,但限于重重障碍,最终只能实现单层12mm厚PC单板围护。好在是十月中旬,对三地来说气温都比较温和稳定,只能依赖开门调节自然通风了。另外这种板不耐划伤,表面磨损会影响通透性,同样因为用时短,注意维护的话至少可以坚持半年。

2. It is no longer possible to use insulated glass curtain wall production and processing, so the PC boards (acrylic boards) became an acceptable alternative. We did have tried to use double-layer insulated PC boards to solve the problem of heat insulation and energy saving as well as flatness, or to set up some opening glass windows.However, none of these attempts survived through huge obstacles. At last, we could only set down with single-layer of 12mm thick PC boards as enclosure. The bright side to this is that the program was held during the middle of October, so the temperature is mild and stable in all three sites, which makes it possible to regulate the natural ventilation by opening of the door.Since these boards were not scratch-resistant, abrasion on the surface affected the permeability. They can last at least six months of good status if had being paid attention to maintenance.

▼外观细部,exterior detailed view © 陈旸

3. 类似满堂基础的双向密排钢构底座,是为了让上部荷载均匀分散,不会对广场的铺地(均为石材)产生破坏。基座完成后上面满铺雪松木板(省掉防腐工序),变成这个速成建筑周边一圈高度适中的可坐地板,再次利用木质的温暖感令人易于接近。

3. We used two-way dense row steel foundation, similar to raft foundation, it will allow the upper load evenly dispersed, and not to damage the original square paving under (stone). Cedar planks(omitted anti-corrosion process) were arranged on the foundation, becoming the floor that can be sit around this quick-building building. Once again, the warmth of wood made the space easy to approach.

▼结构细部,structure detailed view © 陈旸

4. 屋面采用铝镁锰直立锁边板是常规做法,也是防雨耐久的必要保证。金属板下的屋面结构板(同时也是顶棚完成面)延续了之前的SPF板NLT钉合木系统,比较重也比较贵,但这个重量反而是必要的,尤其是在厦门海边,再简单的屋面也要考虑台风负压的不利影响。所以房子整体要轻但屋面要重,这一对看似矛盾的要求依赖于较强的结构整体刚度来平衡满足。

4. It is the conventional practice to use aluminum-magnesium manganese upright lock edge plate in the roof, and also guarantee the rain-resistance. For the roof structure plate under the metal plate (also the roof finish surface), we used SPF plate with NLT (Nail Laminated Timber), which is heavier and more expensive. The weight is actually a pro not a con. Especially for the site on the seaside of Xiamen, where typhoon come from time to time, a heavy structure becomes a necessity. Therefore, the house should be light but the roof should be heavy, this pair of requirements seems to be contradictory, and still was balanced by the strong overall structural stiffness.

▼屋顶细部,roof detailed view © 陈旸


Besides, there were also a lot of other issues related, such as the orientation and connection of each site to the surrounding area, how to accommodate the octagonal reading pavilion, which is the symbol of the second season of “The Reader”, and the resulting construction process, whether to provide a door to the pavilion (and we decided to remove it before the broadcast), and the selection and placement of air conditioning terminals (also removed before use), etc.

The 72 hours of live broadcast, along with the 720 hours of technical desk work and the running around in three places were indeed a moment of tension that we experienced together with the program team and the contractor. Together we faced the problems. Together we accomplished the events.

▼录制现场(厦门),recording scene (Xiamen) © 陈旸

▼录制现场(武汉), recording scene (Wuhan) © Owen


Yes, this essay is very “unarchitectural”. Maybe it’s more like a tedious narrative of the process of an event. For the program, the Readers’ House is a special set of props, but for the architects, the house is more like a medium, or a window, that does have all the characteristics of a construction project as it should be, but also clearly strikes at the customary judgments of expertise. Transience, public participation, limit-time management of the bookstore, temporary and comfort, material limit and spatial potential, space-time interaction in the era of new media… This temporary building that has disappeared left us with only images and memories, but it seems to be able to pull out a lot of unconventional topics, like many light spots overlapping and flashing in the mind.

▼文创区,cultural area © 陈旸

▼公众使用场景,usage scenario © 朗读者



Through the flashback images, we still see the moment we discussed the proposal with the project team for the first time. Initially, the architect’s interest led us to propose a proposal similar to the “suitcase” space that can be loaded and unloaded lightly, in order to cope with the temporary and the idea of possible off-site reuse. However, at the insistence of hostess Dong Qing, the symmetrical, inward-tilted roof form was eventually adopted. This time I admire the intuition of our “Party A”, because at this time, artistry is not important, but a reading space that looks like a “home” is important.

In the cool dark night, hold a book in hand, look around the house, seeing the warm light filling the entire wooden space, like a slight red on the cheeks of the city, warm and soft, heartwarming.

▼施工纪实,construction ©止境设计工作室

▼夜景,night view © 陈旸

▼沿街视角,street view © 谢金容

▼面江夜景,night view © Owen

▼夜晚灯光效果,lighting by night © Owen

▼平面示意图,plan © 止境设计工作室

建筑面积:60 m2

Project name: Readers’ House
Building area: 60 m2
Design time: 2020.9
Completion date: 2020.10
Design Team: Zhang Nan, Ou Renwei, Xie Jinrong, Zhang Xiaoyuan
Interior furniture and lighting design: Atelier Diameter
Interior furnishings and soft furnishings provided by: Beijing-Yanjiyou Bookstore, Wuhan-Zhongshuge Bookstore, Xiamen-Shidian Bookstore
Structural consultant: SKF Architecture Shanghai
Curtain wall consultant: YiXuan Curtain Wall
Commissioned by: CCTV “The Reader” Season 3 Program Team
Constructor: SKF Architecture Shanghai
Photographer: Yang Chen, Owen (Ou Renwei), Xie Jinrong
the use of part of the information, video and pictures are authorized by “the Readers” program team

更多请至:Atelier Diameter on gooood


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