Atelier G’s Serpentine Bookhouse Library „Unfolds Like a Scroll Painting”

The spiral shape of a conch shell informed the Serpentine Bookhouse in Shenzhen, China, a library designed by a local architecture studio. Atelier Xi.

The 300 square meter building is located on the Dasha River Eco Trail. Atelier Xi Offers a children’s study room, public toilet and a viewing balcony with seating areas for visitors and residents.

Atelier Xi created Serpine Bookhouse

„The building acts like a soaring spiral art sculpture, reclaiming as much ground space as possible for plant growth and tourism activities,” company president Chen Shi told Dezeen.

„The spiral spatial structure both frames the interior terraces and creates a 360-panoramic view of the surrounding landscape through the expansive windows,” he continued.

Serpentine Bookhouse by Atelier Xi
It has a spiral shape

Atelier Xi created a unique form of structure using the steel framework of a Vierendeel truss – a truss without diagonal members – and tensile reinforcement.

The structure allows the spiral’s inner and outer edges to be lined with full-height windows, providing visitors with a dynamic view of the surrounding landscape as they ascend the building.

Serpentine Bookhouse by Atelier Xi
It is modeled after a conch shell

„The starting point of the vortex touches the ground, meandering through the trees,” Gee told DeSean. „Meanwhile, the second floor at the end of the spiral path eventually opens up the vista and offers a different perspective overlooking the park.”

„For the viewer, walking through the interior space presents an ever-unfolding view, elevating their perspective like an unfolding scroll painting,” he added.

Serpentine Bookhouse by Atelier Xi
Vertical aluminum louvres cover parts of the building

High-level windows provide cross ventilation to the interior, with vertical aluminum louvres covering the building providing sunlight.

A staircase covers the inner wall of the spiral, while the outer wall is lined with bookshelves, aligned in a series of stepped platforms.

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Serpentine Bookhouse by Atelier Xi
A staircase covers the inner wall of the spiral

At the top, wooden glass doors open onto a small, sheltered balcony area with seating overlooking the landscape.

Each end of the spiral, as well as its base, are finished with garden steel panels selected to reflect the color of the wood finish used throughout the interior.

„Aluminum was chosen for the sunshade grill to ensure durability in the hot coastal climate, and is finished with a color scheme that matches the wood tones used in the interior,” explained Xi.

„Garden steel plates with a dark color are used as end caps on the facade, signifying the beginning and end of the spatial movement,” he added.

Serpentine Bookhouse by Atelier Xi
Serpentine Bookhouse has been longlisted for Dezeen Awards 2023

Atelier Xi chose to retain the existing pathways around the building and introduce new planting and a concrete bench, which sits beneath the spiral and rests on its top floor.

Serpentine Bookhouse was recently longlisted in the Civic Projects category of the DeScene Awards 2023. Fluid forms continue to feature in Atelier Shi’s work, with previous projects including a sculptural pavilion in rural China and a curved concrete extension to an abandoned library.

Cinematography by Chang Chau.

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