Twisted Brick Shell Concept Library / HCCH Studio

Architects: HCCH Studio
Year: 2023
Photographs: Qingyan Zhu, Fangfang Tian
Structural Consultant: AND Office, Zhun Zhang/AND office
Design Team: Hao Chen, Chenchen Hu, Yida Hou, Wenxi Li, Xi Cai
City: Quzhou
Country: China

The Concept Library in Zhejiang Province embodies an integration of contemporary design and traditional materials within a pastoral setting. This architectural piece presents itself as a spiral shell structure, nestled amidst a high grass field, that seeks to merge modern formal expression with local material culture. At the heart of its construction, the library employs a unique method of using red bricks not through traditional masonry but by casting them in situ within a steel-reinforced framework. This method, along with the strategic use of sunlight and the placement of text within acrylic balls, fosters a profound connection between the visitor, the architecture, and the surrounding landscape. This brief introduction explores the library’s innovative design elements, its challenges, and its role as a contemplative space that transcends the typical rural aesthetic.

Twisted brick shell concept library / hcch studio

The Concept Library is envisioned as a spiral shell, cradled by a tall grass field in the rural region of Zhejiang Province, China. This project delves into the potential for blending contemporary design with traditional material practices.

The structure spans roughly 10 meters in diameter and stands 5 meters tall. Its form is crafted through the continuous sweep of two semicircles, which blur the lines between the interior and exterior. Constructed from red bricks, the building technique deviates from masonry to casting the bricks in situ. An opening at the apex allows sunlight to permeate the subdued interior, where visitors engage with texts within acrylic spheres through small wall openings, intertwining the written word with the external vista and creating a lyrical interplay that unites the physical, mental, and natural realms.

The arrangement of bricks along the doubly curved surface introduces significant construction challenges. These are mitigated by using perforated steel plates that serve both as a reinforcing framework and as guides for the bricks, which are subsequently enveloped in high-strength concrete. This tri-material system coalesces to form a cohesive structural entity.

To maintain the radial integrity of the shell, bricks of 12 varying widths are distributed across a UV grid. This approach not only enhances the structural logic but also enriches the visual dynamics of the library, drawing from principles of stacked and interlocked masonry. The distribution pattern of the bricks and the variable thickness of the ‘mortar’—actual in-situ concrete—challenge traditional brick construction techniques.

This project represents a manifest in rural architecture, merging digital methods with classical materials to offer an experience that transcends the conventional rustic narrative. The library stands as a modern refuge that promotes introspection and the exploration of both internal and external worlds, inviting visitors to read and reflect amidst a broader landscape.

Twisted brick shell concept library / hcch studio
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Project Location

Address: Longyou County, Quzhou, Zhejiang, China

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