Cave-like art museum is buried in sand dunes
Following three years of construction, Beijing's OPEN Architecture has completed a new art museum that is integrated into sand dunes. The UCCA Dune Art Museum is almost totally covered by sand and has an interior made up of cave-like spaces.
The building is located in Qinhuangdo, east of Beijing, and takes its place well among the rugged landscape. It consists of a complex concrete shell that was largely handmade by locals, including former ship workers. OPEN Architecture deliberately retained the resulting irregular texture on the interior walls as a reminder of the building's manual construction.
Visitors enter the 930 sq m (around 10,000 sq ft) museum through a long tunnel and domed reception area, before reaching 10 cave-like gallery spaces. The firm installed carefully-placed skylights and glazing to ensure enough natural light year-round, as well as offering choice views. A spiral staircase also leads upwards to a viewing platform, while elsewhere in the building is a café and reading room.
While we've no figures available, OPEN Architecture says that the museum requires relatively little energy to maintain a comfortable temperature inside thanks to the insulating effects of the sand that covers it. Additionally, an efficient ground source heat pump system is used instead of air conditioning. Construction of the building involved destroying some of the dunes then recreating them atop the new building, though the dunes alongside have been carefully preserved.
"The decision to create the museum underneath the dune was born out of the architects' deep reverence for nature and their desire to protect the vulnerable dune ecosystem, formed by natural forces over thousands of years," says OPEN Architecture. "Because of the museum, the surrounding sand dunes will be preserved instead of leveled to make space for ocean-view real estate developments, as has happened to many other dunes along the shore."
Though the museum proper is now complete, OPEN Architecture is planning another nearby gallery named the Sea Art Museum. As its name suggests, it will be placed in the water. During low tide, visitors will be able to walk between the two using a long causeway.