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UCCA DUNE ART MUSEUM, QINHUANGDAO, CHINA LIGHTING DESIGN Open Architecture


A structure that is as much eco statement as art space, the 930m2


museum is carved


into a dune several metres high along a quiet beach in Qinhuangdao on China’s north-east coast. Commissioned by the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) — China’s leading independent institution of contemporary art – it is largely enveloped by the dune, its interconnected, organic cave-like structure recalling primal human habitation and the first works of art. Aside from this reference, the decision to create the museum underneath the dune also arose from the architects’ desire to respect nature and to protect the vulnerable dune ecosystem, formed over thousands of years. As a result of the museum, the surrounding sand dunes will be preserved and avoid the fate of


others along the shore, which have been levelled to make space for ocean-view real estate developments.


The interior spaces, which include 10 galleries and a cafe, are punctuated by openings throughout the building, each with a different orientation and size. These skylights work both to bring natural light in and to allow visitors contact with and views of the outside environment. Rather like informal versions of James Turrell’s Skyspaces, they frame the changing expressions of the sea and sky throughout the day, and also provide natural lighting for the museum’s spaces year round.


The galleries vary in size, the largest, multifunctional space having the most dramatic approach. After passing through a long, dark tunnel and a small reception


area, the space suddenly opens up to visitors, a beam of daylight from the opening above powerfully illuminating the space.


Above


A skylight in the Dune Museum, an avenue for natural light to enter and the portal through which observers can witness the changing expression of the sky


The building’s concrete shell was shaped by hand by local workers (some former shipbuilders), using formwork made from small linear strips of wood and other materials. Open Architecture deliberately retained the irregular, imperfect texture left by the formwork, allowing traces of the building’s manual construction to be appreciated. The rough, matt finish of the white interiors softens and diffuses the natural light. The deep-set nature of the skylights negates any glare, allowing the light to wash their sides and cast pools of light on walls and floor, according to their positioning and time of day.


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