In China, a Library Doubles as an Earthquake Memorial
In September 2012, a series of earthquakes shook Yunnan Province, China, killing 80 people and injuring more than 700. More than 6,600 homes were destroyed and another 430,000 were damaged.
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Most of the houses in Shuanghe Village were wiped out, leaving the survivors to find shelter in tents for the better part of a year. Eventually, the Chinese government intervened with a building program that erected new concrete and brick houses arranged around a large central plaza.
The University of Hong Kong decided to sponsor the design of a new library building and community center for the empty plaza to serve as a learning center, public gathering spot, and memorial to those who lost their lives in the earthquake.
Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin, who teach in the university’s architecture department, teamed up on the design for the building, which they dubbed The Pinch. Working in collaboration with a local timber company, they devised a deceptively simple structure that responds to the shape of the valley in which it is situated. The site is set against a 13-foot retaining wall, and the library building straddles the different levels, serving as a bridge between the rebuilt village and the memorial plaza.
The library building itself is notable for a series of trusses that extend down from the roof to create a floating bookshelf.