Published On: 21.06.2022|Categories: General News|Tags: , |

In the city of Yantai, Shandong province, on China’s eastern coast, the municipal authorities wanted to improve the waterfront for their citizens. To this end, they asked OPEN Architecture, founded in New York by architect LI Hu and architect HUANG Wenjing, who have had an office in Beijing since 2008, to submit a proposal. Their architectural proposal resulted in the design of a unique and poetic artefact, which they called the Sun Tower and whose construction has just begun.

According to the architects’ statement of intent, the Sun Tower building was to serve the city in two ways: first, as a reminder to its citizens of “the wonders of nature that are often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily life”; second, as a space that would bring “much needed public programs into the new town where rapid urban development now finds itself deficient in culture“.

The architecture of the Sun Tower consists of two shell-shaped white concrete structures, one on top of the other, connected and braced by horizontal slabs and ramps. The tower created with this design houses a “semi-outdoor” theatre at its base, a winding space with viewing platforms for multimedia exhibitions in the middle, and a library and “phenomena space” at the top.

The concave inner shell contains the theatre stands and absorbs and amplifies the sounds of the sea. The upper shell, on the other hand, inverted, contains the library with a glazed side that is transparent to the light. Above it, the phenomena observation area offers views of the ocean and the sky. Finally, an “oculus” in the roof of this last stage opens up to the rainwater to fill a small pool in summer, or as a fireplace with its transformation into a hearth in winter. The tower is framed by a circular plaza, with a shallow pond and fountains and misting fountains. The building, by design, therefore becomes a nature observation tower, as well as a cultural destination.

Finally, the shape of the Sun Tower is modelled on the path of the sun in Yantai. At four important times of the year, the sun’s rays and shadows play with the building’s spaces. At these times, in a beautiful spectacle, sunrises over the sea and sunsets over the city are framed by the building. In the square, a specially designed water channel marks the straight line that the shadow of the Sun Tower will follow on the day of the equinox.

Sources: OPEN Architecture. Images: OPEN Architecture, Archilovers.

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