The ninth AZ Awards 2019 in Toronto, Canada, saw an exceptionally wide array of interesting submissions this year. The 1,175 entries marked an all-time record and the international jury had a challenging task to select 20 winners from the 68 shortlisted projects.
While all of the projects from 50 countries, and especially the winners with their exceptional works in global architecture and design, would warrant mentions and blog posts, the UCCA Dune Art Museum in China, a contemporary museum in a unique location, stood out to us.
Built into the several meter-high dunes at the coast of Qinhuangdao, a port city 190 miles east of Beijing, the 930-square-meter art museum is a series of interconnected, organic shapes that resemble caves. The timeless, almost primitive form is a pure and simple design under the sand dunes.
The idea was inspired by children’s play in the sand and their relentless and tireless efforts to build castles and sculptures. OPEN Architecture combined this notion with their reverence to nature and their desire to protect the dune ecosystem.
The UCCA Dune Art museum with fascinating skylights and a spiral staircase is a multi-faceted stimulation for the active mind and also prevents the leveling of the dunes to make room for ocean-facing real estate developments.
Through a long, dark tunnel, art lovers arrive in the cell-like contiguous spaces of different sizes, hence the galleries, that are filled with daylight from the skylights above. The skylights almost form part of the exhibition themselves as they allow visitors to see the ever-changing sky above.
The staircase gives access to the lookout on top of the dunes where one can contemplate art and nature and their interconnectedness.
The three-dimensional geometry of the concrete shell of the building was hand-shaped by local workers using formwork. The architects deliberately left the irregularities and imperfections of the construction as a reminder of the importance of craftsmanship.
In addition to the unique design and architecture of the UCCA Dune Art Museum, the jury at the AZ Awards was also impressed by the sand-covered roof that reduces the summer heat and the low-energy, zero-emission ground source heat pump system that replaces the traditional air conditioning.
To learn more about all the winners, visit the Azure website.
Source: some photos are courtesy of v2com and OPEN Architecture. Photos by Qinshan Wu and Nan Ni.