in china, OPEN architecture is building an art museum inside a sand dune

in china, OPEN architecture is building an art museum inside a sand dune

OPEN architecture has shared construction images of one of its most anticipated projects. located on a quiet beach along the coast of bohai bay in northern china, the ‘dune art museum’ is, as its name suggests, buried within a sand dune. to construct the subterranean structure, the design team excavated the site and built a concrete network that spans a total area of 930 square meters (10,000 sqf). as construction progresses, the bare shells will be covered with sand and the dune’s original state will be restored — including the shrubs that help stabilize it.

dune art museum
an aerial view of the museum’s concrete structure
image © OPEN | main image © tian fangfang



in september 2018, the UCCA — china’s leading independent institution of contemporary art — announced that it will work in partnership with OPEN to program and operate the museum, which will now be known as the UCCA dune. the exhibitions will be designed to exist in dialogue with the building’s unique form and its relationship with the natural surroundings. while the museum’s exterior is fully integrated with nature, its interior spaces have been conceived as a mysterious network of organically shaped caves.

dune art museum
sweeping views will be presented out to sea
image © OPEN



this series of cell-like spaces is capable of accommodating a range programs, including differently-sized galleries, studios, and a café. after passing through a long, dark tunnel and a small reception area, the space opens up as visitors enter the largest multifunctional gallery where a skylight provides dramatic illumination. meanwhile, a spiral staircase leads to a lookout point on the sand dune, guiding audiences from the dark recesses of the museum’s cave-like galleries to the vast openness of the sea and sky.

dune art museum
skylights help illuminate the subterranean spaces
image © OPEN



OPEN is simultaneously working on plans for an adjacent sister institution — the sea art museum — which would rise out of the water like a solitary rock. in the near future, a long walkway will extend out into the ocean, allowing visitors to walk between the two museums when the tide is low. set to open later in 2018, the UCCA dune’s inaugural exhibition will explore the relationship between humans and nature against the backdrop of rapid development in china.

dune art museum
the concrete network spans a total area of 930 square meters
image © ni nan

dune art museum
a dramatic aperture hovers above the main gallery space
image © tian fangfang

dune art museum
a spiral staircase leads to a lookout point on the sand dune
image © xia zhi

dune art museum
once complete, the building will be covered with sand and hidden from view
image © OPEN

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