The Pinch

Department: Architecture
Active Dates: September 2012 – April 2014

The PINCH, a project by Faculty of Architecture staff members Mr John Lin and Mr Olivier Ottevaere won the “Best of the Best” award at the A&D Trophy Awards 2014 and the prestigious “Small Project of the Year 2014″ award at the World Architecture Festival which is an annual festival and awards competition dedicated to celebrating and sharing architectural excellence from across the globe. The project was funded by The University of Hong Kong (HKU) Knowledge Exchange Fund in 2011/12.

As part of the government-led reconstruction work following the 2012 Yunnan earthquake in China, the team collaborated with a local timber factory and built a community library in a village damaged by the earthquake. The library and the surrounding plaza offer public space for villagers to meet and children to read and play.

The PINCH is a library and community center in Shuanghe Village, Yunnan Province, China. Owing to the earthquake, 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.

The University decided to sponsor the design and implementation of a new library building. Located in the new but empty public plaza, it would serve to activate the community and provide a physical memorial for the event. 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.

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

Design: Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin, HKU
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, Joyce Ip, Yvonne Xu Meng
Date: September 2012 – April 2014
Size: 80 sqm
Cost: 130,000 rmb
Unit Cost: 1600 rmb/sqm

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