Architect Li Xiaodong’s Liyuan Library built in 2011 is located on the outskirts of Beijing, in Jiaojiehe village, surrounded by a mountainous and forested landscape. An exterior screen clad with locally sourced firewood sticks conceals a glass façade, and a series of platforms inside integrate shelving for books and provide seating areas for readers. Firewood was chosen as a way to blend in with the landscape and reflected the local vernacular. It was collected year-round by villagers and used to fuel cooking stoves. Li writes of the decision “to use ordinary material in an extraordinary way, cladding the building in familiar textures in a way that is strikingly sensitive.” The firewood sticks were placed in rows with slight spacing diffusing the sunlight and illuminating the reading spaces.
Photography: Li Xiaodong