designed by OPEN architecture, the ‘pinghe bibliotheater’ comprises a library and two theaters that interlock within a structure that has been dubbed ‘the blue whale’. the project, which forms part an international school in shanghai, has been designed to foster students’ interests in reading and performing, while encouraging their imaginations to roam freely.

OPEN pinghe bibliotheater
image by jonathan leijonhufvud | video courtesy of OPEN architecture

 

 

with its slanted roof, spiky skylights, and porthole-like windows, the project also somewhat resembles an ocean liner moored within the school campus. rather than grouping the school’s programs within a single structure, OPEN deconstructed the site’s functions and instead designed a series of small buildings to create a village-like campus. the architects decided to combine the library and theater within one building, uniting the skills of reading, thinking, and performing.

OPEN pinghe bibliotheater
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

 

 

the proscenium theater and the black box, spaces which require the least amount of natural light and the most acoustic isolation, occupy the lower part and the deep central area of the building. meanwhile, the library occupies the upper part. a loop of different reading spaces rises and drops according to the varying heights of the theater volumes below, creating a terraced spatial sequence that culminates with a central reading area that is surrounded by books and light.

OPEN pinghe bibliotheater
image by wu qingshan

 

 

as the experience of reading is inevitably introverted and personal, the architects created a number of comfortable zones with different qualities, including a sunken roof garden with an outdoor reading area. conversely, the experience of performing in theaters is more extroverted. ‘the main entry to the theater is where the building is ‘cut’ diagonally to form a theatrical opening,’ explains the design team. ‘the juxtaposition of warm wood panels and deep blue walls create a visually stimulating auditorium.’

OPEN pinghe bibliotheater
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

 

 

‘light is crucial to the design of the library, not only fulfilling the functional needs, but also giving form to the spaces and animating them with musical rhythm,’ continues OPEN. ‘abundant skylights on the slanted roof bring filtered light to the central reading area, a giant oculus dropping down from the ceiling illuminates the very center in an almost spiritual way, forming an emotionally charged central space. while in the theater, natural light is avoided entirely, and artificial lighting was carefully designed to meet functional requirements.’

OPEN pinghe bibliotheater
image by chen hao

 

 

in addition to serving the needs of the school, the building can also be used by the surrounding communities as a result of its position on the campus. it is hoped that the bibliotheater will become a ‘social energizer’ that brings together students, parents, and members of the community. see the building documented in more detail in the video at the top of this page, and see more projects by OPEN architecture on designboom here.

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by wu qingshan

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by chen hao

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by wu qingshan

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by chen hao

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by wu qingshan

OPEN architecture's 'pinghe bibliotheater' in shanghai fits together like a puzzle
image by jonathan leijonhufvud

 

 

 

project info:

 

name: pinghe bibliotheater
location: shanghai, china
design year: 2016-2020
status: completed
client: shanghai tixue education and technology co., ltd.
program: 500 seated theater, 150 seated black-box theater, library, café
building area: 5,372 sqm
site area: 2,312 sqm

 

architecture and interior design: OPEN architecture
principals in charge: li hu, huang wenjing
design team: ye qing, shi bingjie, yang ling, lu di, zou xiaowei, liu xunfeng, li lingna
local design institute: shanghai yuangou architects and consultants
structural and MEP consultant: CABR technology co., ltd.
curtain wall consultant: CABR technology co., ltd.
theater/acoustic consultant: shanghai net culture development co., ltd.
lighting consultant: shanghai modern architecture decoration environmental design research institute co., ltd.