Seven Continuous White Vaults—Renovation of Yuanquan Children's Library
Project Name: Renovation of Yuanquan Children's Library
Project location:Xinhua County, hunan province, China
Project Scale: 340.17square meters
Design time:April 2022
Construction time:July- August 2022
The reading hall is located on the second floor of a street facing commercial building in Xinhua County, Hunan Province. The original space is in a rough state, with an area of 340 square meters. The interior is horizontally divided into two long and narrow parallel parts by three rows of concrete square columns with a spacing of only 3.4 m (axis spacing), and a gap of about one meter is left between the north and south rows of columns and the exterior wall.
After careful study of the original plan and site survey, the architect decided to take advantage of the limitations of dense column network and space division to implant another new space form—vault, "eliminate" the existence of columns, transform the fragmented and impersonal parallel space into a "spiritual" space, accommodate the function of children's reading hall, and create a highly recognizable and symbolic learning place.
Seven white vaults fall above the two rows of columns on the north side, encasing the columns in a "thick" arch wall. Bookshelves are embedded in the arch wall to form a "book wall", and this row of space is divided into seven small "study". A 1.5m wide arcade passage runs through the seven vaulted study rooms and divides each small study room into two small spaces, each of which just holds a large desk for six children.
The scales of the seven arches are the same, but not completely average. The arches at both ends have greater "stability" due to the existence of side walls, and the ground is raised by 300 mm, forming two large reading spaces 5.1 meters long and 3.4 meters wide. The arch in the middle is just adjacent to the stairwell, so an arched end wall and the book walls on both sides constitute the most "closed" reading space in the entire reading hall - three sides are enclosed and one side is open. This is a relatively private place where small-scale communication and discussion can take place.
The space on the south side forms a service space of the reading hall through partition, including the reception desk, office room and toilets. All columns are cleverly hidden, and the air conditioning system is hidden between the vault and the floor as much as possible. Therefore, space and light become the masters here.
Because each window corresponds to an arch space, the originally plain windows have a special meaning. But the window is not exclusive to the arch, because along the window, a window gallery parallel to the arcade is raised by 300 mm, allowing this row of windows to establish spatial autonomy. This window corridor, less than one meter wide, is very suitable for children. It is the boundary between the book world and the outside world, and between ideal and reality. This window corridor is a fuzzy space and also a "free" space, through which children can see others reading; You can also walk up to the window porch and look outside when you are tired of reading; You can also sit on the steps of the window gallery and read, leaning against the side of the arch wall and staring.
The large window of the open space on the south side forms a huge "田" （farmland）character, which is recessed into a niche, which is the amplification of the "田" character. Many children in the reading hall come from the countryside and have a deeper experience of farmland. This is a symbol that is easy to be understood by local teachers and children. At the same time, this space is also the most popular miniature "cinema". Every weekend, the children will sit around and enjoy the cartoons carefully selected by the teachers for them.
The reading hall can be imagined as a micro city or a small town with streets, squares, alleys, gardens and rows of houses. The whole space can travel around, with diversified paths, places for free communication, and even a corner where you can be alone and dazed. This is a world parallel to the real city outside, an illusion that seems to exist in a dream, but the light and noise of the real world come in from behind the aluminum window frame and blue coated glass that are not too tight, which will wake you up from a short dream, walk to the window gallery, and return to your very familiar real life.
At night, the lights on both sides of the seven white vaults light up the vaults and desks, the arcades and window galleries, and the hearts of children who are eager for knowledge.