A Transparent Library Gleams at the Center of a Chinese Mountain Village
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A Transparent Library Gleams at the Center of a Chinese Mountain Village

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Raised on stilts to create a sheltered gathering space, Mountain House in Mist is a public library in China’s Zhejiang Province.

Located in Liangjiashan, an ancient village in Wuyi County in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, and embraced by dense, mountainous forests, Mountain House in Mist is a public library that occupies a triangular site near the main village square next to conserved, rammed-earth Chinese courtyard houses.

The Mountain House in Mist library is located close to the main square in an ancient village in Zhejiang Province, China.

The Mountain House in Mist library is located close to the main square in an ancient village in Zhejiang Province, China.

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The 1,679-square-foot building was commissioned by the Hongfu Tourism Group Co., Ltd. and designed by Hangzhou–based studio Shulin Architectural Design. An oasis of calm and learning for the residents of the village, the library has a main structure of steel and wood, and was built with pine, terrazzo, and clear "sun panels" that allow light to pass through. 

A walkway on the south side of the library.

A walkway on the south side of the library.

The modern library has a facade that complements the surrounding village homes.

The modern library has a facade that complements the surrounding village homes.

On the southern perimeter of the site is a pedestrian walkway, and to the north is a 9.8-foot stone wall with a playground for children above it. 

The translucent, ribbed panels that form the exterior wall are manufactured in this village.

The translucent, ribbed panels that form the exterior wall are manufactured in this village.

Old and new coexist in Mountain House in Mist.

Old and new coexist in Mountain House in Mist.

Much like the rural homes in parts of Southeast Asia that were built to stay dry during floods, 10 columns support the main interior space on a raised level. 

A project that aims to foster the spirit of community, the library is a place where neighbors can gather to catch up on the events of the day.

A project that aims to foster the spirit of community, the library is a place where neighbors can gather to catch up on the events of the day.

The area under the raised level is a sheltered, public space.

The area under the raised level is a sheltered, public space.

These columns create a sheltered, open-air patio with a little pond on the ground level under the floor of the library. 

From the library, users can look down at the pond through the clear panels. "The setting of the patio looks like it is waiting for a certain time—for the sun to cast in a beautiful shadow, for the rain to drip ripples, or for the breeze to blow in," says lead architect Liu Dongying.

From the library, users can look down at the pond through the clear panels. "The setting of the patio looks like it is waiting for a certain time—for the sun to cast in a beautiful shadow, for the rain to drip ripples, or for the breeze to blow in," says lead architect Liu Dongying.

Because the library is set on columns, it is at the same level as the playground, which allows patrons to read while keeping an eye on children who are playing through the building’s picture windows.

The ribbed, semi-transparent walls create a dream-like spatial experience and atmosphere.

The ribbed, semi-transparent walls create a dream-like spatial experience and atmosphere.

From an outdoor staircase that begins at the ground level, villagers can access the interior of the library, where there are reading areas, bookshelves, and a 3.3-foot wide corridor that they can meander along while browsing at the titles on the shelves. 

Cozy nooks for reading and relaxing are scattered throughout the library.

Cozy nooks for reading and relaxing are scattered throughout the library.

Another staircase leads up to a more private reading area.

Another staircase leads up to a more private reading area.

Bookshelves line a corridor.

Bookshelves line a corridor.

The library’s facade is wrapped in a special, ribbed panels that are manufactured in the village. These translucent panels allow those inside to glimpse muted views of the landscape outdoors. 

Open, pinewood bookshelves divide the interiors, but don't block views. 

Open, pinewood bookshelves divide the interiors, but don't block views. 

The panels also soften the quality of the sunlight entering the interiors, resulting in a relaxing reading environment.

The sun panels soften the quality of light entering the library.

The sun panels soften the quality of light entering the library.

A communal reading/study desk.

A communal reading/study desk.

The ground-level patio and pond brings sunlight, rain, and air into the design, so the building integrates better with its site and context. 

"The essence of rural architecture as I understand it is a state in which people and space, people and nature, and people and time coexist harmoniously," says the project’s lead architect Liu Dongying. 

Mountain House in Mist sectional drawing

Mountain House in Mist sectional drawing

"Our inspiration comes not only from intuition, but is also rooted in the countryside itself, so that the locality and creativity can connect well," he adds.

A Transparent Library Gleams at the Center of a Chinese Mountain Village - Photo 17 of 19 -
Mountain House in Mist ground floor plan

Mountain House in Mist ground floor plan

Mountain House in Mist upper floor plan

Mountain House in Mist upper floor plan


Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Shulin Architectural Design

Photography: Zhao Yilong