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© Jonathan Leijonhufvud


Project Name:Pinghe Bibliotheater 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 m² Site Area: 2,312 m² Location:Shanghai, China Credits Architecture and Interior Design: OPEN Architecture Principals in Charge:LI Hu, HUANG Wenjing Design Team: YE Qing, SHI Bingjie, YANG Ling, TAN Qingjun, LU Di, Daijiro Nakayama, LIN Bihong, CHEN Xiuyuan, ZHOU Tingting, 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.


The Blue Whale or Ocean Liner? OPEN's New Library + Theater Building in Shanghai

Pinghe Bibliotheater is the core of OPEN’s latest project—School as Village/Shanghai Qingpu Pinghe International School. A library, a theater, and a black box interlock together like a Chinese puzzle to form this characteristic building that some call ‘the blue whale’ while others see it as an ocean liner. The unique form of the building and the free-flowing spaces not only cultivate the students’ interests in reading and performing, but also encourage their imagination to roam freely in the ocean of knowledge.

The Bibliotheater abuts an important corner of this school-village, at a junction near which a major city highway and an ancient canal also meet. The slanted roof with spiky skylights, ship portholes like round windows, and eye-catching blue color leave a strong impression on passersby.

When we were given the extensive and jumbled-together program of a new school for 2000 students aged from 3 to 18 years, the immediate reaction was how dreadful it would be for a kid spending these many years fixed in one building. We decided to break away from the current trend of school-as-megastructure. Instead, the original program was deconstructed and grouped into many smaller and distinctive buildings, forming a village-like campus. The marriage of library and theater came from the architect’s belief that the act of extensive reading and thinking, and the act of expression through performances, should be critical components of education but are often ignored in test-driven educational systems. The distinctive qualities of these two programs and the respective physical needs came to inspire the design of the building.

Above and Below
The proscenium theater and the black box, which require the least natural light and the most acoustic isolation, occupy the lower part and the deep central area of the building, while 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 climaxes at a central reading area that is surrounded by books and light.