OPEN Unveils Two Seafront Cultural Buildings in Yantai, China
OPEN Architects has just revealed the architectural designs for two separate cultural projects situated along the coastline of Yantai, China. One of them is “The Space Crystals,” a futuristic digital museum and experiential hub resembling an otherworldly entity that has mysteriously descended upon a seaside mark. Meanwhile, “Sea Square” is square-shaped, providing a library and community service facility, levitating above a restored sea dock. The two structures engage in a spatial and temporal conversation, one reaching towards the sky and the other facing the sea, bridging the present, the past, and the future.
The Space Crystal is located within a circular opening in a wooded coastal park. As a digital, experiential hub, it is committed to unraveling the various enigmas of the cosmos for the general public. From afar, visitors will see the dark structure amongst the trees. Moreover, its photovoltaic glass exterior covers the façade in a mystical air. The structure’s elongated orientation is directed towards the sky, appearing as though it is ready to leap into space.
As individuals pass beneath the overhanging structure and proceed through the entrance, they discover themselves in the heart of the building—a 20-meter-tall, multi-faceted central atrium. Their gaze is immediately directed upwards as natural light descends from overhead. The light plays across the angular surfaces, transforming the typically solid white walls into an array of gray tones that subtly shift with time and changing weather conditions. The atrium serves dual purposes: it functions as a central communal area that orchestrates all activities within the building and also acts as an exhibition area for suspended items and digital displays.
Enveloping the atrium and enclosed within polygonal structures on both sides, a spiraling ramp ascends, linking the different exhibition zones. This upward progression gradually guides the visitor into “the mysteries of the cosmos.” Additionally, a brightly colored staircase offers a vertical shortcut for individuals who may wish to bypass the standard exhibition sequence. At the spiral’s top, an outdoor terrace unveils a panoramic ocean view, aiming to remind visitors of Earth’s splendid seas and skies.
The Sea Square is, in its essence, a seaside library and community service center. While searching for an ideal location, the architect stumbled upon remnants of a fishing boat dock and repair facility. This square platform also had a jetty that extended into the ocean, featuring metal tracks for boat maintenance. The Sea Square was brought up on the existing concrete foundation.
Apart from these two initial squares, a third square was subsequently incorporated. An additional small platform is situated at the jetty’s tip, allowing people to approach the water closely. Collectively, these three squares and the jetty create a vibrant community hub, linking to adjacent urban neighborhoods through a range of offerings. These include a library, restaurant, café, shop, and beach services.
The architects chose a minimalistic approach to preserve the historical essence while propelling it into the future. The jetty and its boat tracks will undergo restoration to their original condition, maintaining the tranquil image of the jetty extending diagonally into the water, with nothing beyond but the vast expanse of ocean and sky. In this way, the jetty also connects the present to the past and future.
OPEN Architecture’s involvement in the China region has been prominent. In fact, their latest Sun Tower, designed as a landmark for the coastal city of Yantai, has recently topped out. In April, OPEN Architecture won the competition to design the Yichang Grand Theatre in China. The project is situated where the Yangtze River and its tributary Huangbai River converge at the tip of the Pinghu Peninsula. The studio is most known for its “Chapel of Sound,” located in a historic town northeast of Beijing, China. This boulder-looking concert hall directly responds to the site, following the form of the valley.