UCCA Dune Art Museum by Open Architecture: 2019 Best of Year Winner for Large Museum/Art Gallery

LOCATION Qinhuangdao
FIRM Open Architecture
SQ. FT. 10,000 SQF

Can a concrete structure in the sand protect its fragile coastal environment? Open Architecture partners Li Hu and Huang Wenjing say yes. Elsewhere in the popular resort area of Qinhuangdao, China, developers have leveled dunes to construct high-rises. But the 10,000-square-foot UCCA Dune Art Museum, an offshoot of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, practically disappears into the drift—and will ultimately save the dune.

Under native acacia and beach grass, a collection of cavelike galleries opens out to the Bohai Sea. Cast-in-place reinforced concrete walls sweep up to skylights, placed to avoid direct sun on artworks, and wrap around a spiral staircase leading to a lookout. Li and Huang enlisted local boatbuilders to shape the plywood boards, steel rebar, and rubber tubes that gird the structure. “The formwork was too complex for a normal contractor,” Li explains. Their handiwork is left visible in the lines and uneven texture of the exposed concrete. “The space inspires artists to create work that has a direct dialogue with nature,” Huang adds.

Sustainability was integral to the design, too. Abundant natural light and ground-source heat pumps reduce emissions, while a thick sand-covered roof moderates temperatures. The dune will stabilize as root systems above grow back in.

Photography by Wu Qingshan.
Photography by Wu Qingshan.
Photography by Wu Qingshan.
Photography by Wu Qingshan.

Project Team: Zhou Tingting; Wang Mengmeng; Hu Boji; Fang Kuanyin; Joshua Parker; Lu Di; Ye Qing; Steven Shi; Jia Han.

> See more from the December/January 2020 issue of Interior Design