Located in the Shuanghe Village of Yunnan Province in China, The Pinch is a library and community centre designed by Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin/ The University of Hong Kong.

The project was created as part of a government led reconstruction effort after an earthquake in September 2012. The majority of village houses were destroyed, leaving the residents living in tents for up to one year. After the earthquake the government has sponsored new concrete and brick houses and a large central plaza. During the first site visit, the houses remained incomplete and the plaza was a large empty site.

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The structure is built on a rooftop of a new yet empty plaza offering a community space to locals for meeting, reading and playing.  The site of the library is against a 4 meter high retaining wall. The design spans across this level difference and acts as a bridge between the rebuilt village and the new memorial plaza. Emphasizing its location in a remote mountain valley, the design responds visually to the space of the valley, offering stunning views across a dramatic double curved roof. The structure itself rises to a peak, a monument to the earthquake and rebuilding effort.

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As a Knowledge Exchange Project, the construction involves collaboration with a local timber manufacturing factory. The process resulted in the development of a surprisingly diverse form through simple means.

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A series of trusses is anchored between the upper road level and lower plaza level. The form of each truss changes to create both a gradual incline (to bring people down) and then a sharp upward pitch (to elevate the roof).

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The trusses were covered in an aluminium waterproofing layer and timber decking.

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On the interior, the trusses extend downward to support a floating bookshelf. Simple traditional school benches are used as chairs. The polycarbonate doors can open to create a completely open space extending out to the plaza

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Rather than submitting to the abandonment of wood construction (as with the houses after the earthquake), the project reasserts the ability to build contemporary timber structures in remote areas of China.

Project Details:

Location: Shuanghe Village, Yunnan Province, China
Design: Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin / The University of Hong Kong
Construction: Kunming Dianmuju Shangmao Company
Funding: Supported by the Knowledge Exchange Impact Award, HKU
Project Team: Crystal Kwan (Project Manager), Ashley Hinchcliffe, Connie Cheng, Johnny Cullinan, Jacky Huang
Size: 80 sqm
Cost: 130,000 rmb
Unit Cost: 1600 rmb/sqm

+ The University of Hong Kong

Olivier Ottevaere

John Lin

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