Located on the campus of China Resources University, a private educational institution in Shenzhen, the design of the China Resources Archive Library is driven by a dual program. The 9,000 square-meter building’s primary function is to serve as an archive for the client, holding all of their physical and digital records in a climate-controlled vault built into the hillside that serves as the project site. Above the archive, the program includes a series of gallery spaces that serve the adjacent campus, adding a civic and cultural dimension to the project.
Project Duration: 2014-2018
Area: 9,000 sqm
Client: China Resources Group
Chief Architectural Designer: Yichen Lu, Qinwen Cai
Chief Interior Designer: Yichen Lu, Qinwen Cai
Associate in Charge: Wen Zhu
Project Team: Hyunjoo Lee, Shuning Fan, Dongyul Kim, Shiqi Li, Alban Denic, Yoko Fujita, Xiaoshi Wang, Jean-Baptiste Simon, Chen Hu, Jasmin Shi
Architect of Record: CCDI Shenzhen
Interior Architect: J&A Design Shenzhen
Structural Design: Yoshinori Nito Engineering and Design
Lighting Design: Beijing Ning Field Lighting Design
The design of the Archive Library responds to two distinct site conditions. The first is the hillside to the east, which enjoys sweeping views of Trail Bay and the mountainous landscape beyond. The second is the China Resources University campus to the south. The project responds to the hillside via a terraced massing that integrates the project into the topography. This allows for a series of exterior public ramps that connect the residential neighborhood at the foot of the hill to the campus above. At the top of the hill, the Archive Library projects a more reserved presence, presenting itself as a two-story mass appropriate to the campus context.
The dual-site response finds further expression at a deeper level of detail. The terraced east side of the project incorporates a series of dramatic cuts that create a dynamic presence when seen from a distance and also connect the interior public zones to the exterior terraces. Towards the campus, the Archive Library massing is defined by surgical cuts that give nuance to the massing, mark the primary public entrance, and hint at the unique spatial quality within.
The exterior is clad with a handmade gray brick that unifies the composition and adds texture to the façade. These bricks are articulated in three different ways to create different surface effects. The base surface articulation (the flat surface) creates a sense of mass and weight that connects the building to earth and to history. Rotating bricks so that they protrude from the wall creates a textured surface with varied light and shadow effects. Subtracting bricks from the exterior surface creates a screened façade that admits light deep into the building while maintaining the building massing.
The interior of the Archive Library is defined by a subtractive strategy—the upper public floors of the project are split into two volumes. The space between them expresses the program, connects the interior space to the natural world beyond, and links the two primary public zone of the project: the entry lobby facing the campus, and the exhibition hall to the east. A public stair, hidden behind a stone wall, connects the main public floors of the building. This stair is a dramatic vertical space with a skylight above and a glazed tile wall to the east that reflects natural light into the lobby through carefully designed openings.
The two main public spaces of the project are carefully linked to the site strategy. The main lobby, facing the university, is defined by gestures that echo the project’s quiet response to the campus and enhance a sense of interiority. To the north of the Skylight Hall, the public exhibition space incorporates a striking sloped ceiling that extends the cut on the façade, connects to the exterior public terraces, and enjoys dramatic views of the ocean and mountains beyond.