CUHK rural library project wins at the Oscars of Architecture – the World Architecture Festival 2022
The Pingtan Children’s Library (the Library), designed and built by Professor Peter W. Ferretto at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) School of Architecture and his team at Condition_Lab, has received the World Interior of the Year Award and the Best Use of Natural Light Prize at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF), often referred to as the Oscars of architecture.
Opened in late 2021, the Library is located in the Dong Minority village of Pingtan, Hunan Province. This small structure, three storeys high and approximately 180 sqm in area, is entirely built from timber. The building sits within a primary school courtyard serving more than 400 local children. Rather than a building with floors and rooms, it consists of two interwoven spiral staircases, a double helix that becomes both the vertical circulation and the seating for the children. As a building typology, the Library follows the traditional Dong house, with a tiled pitch roof, and a mortise and tenon timber construction system of interlocking columns and beams. It sets a new paradigm for rural village libraries in China, as it is a place where kids read, play and explore.
Professor Ferretto said, “The building is mainly made of timber, and was built by local villagers using traditional Dong carpentry skills. The building was built with a single donation from the Chan Cheung Mun Chung Charitable Fund of HK$600,000, which covered the entire construction costs. This shows that social impact does not require large amounts of financial investment, and good design is not limited to high-end projects. Architecture must have a purpose.”
WAF judges applauded the “deep level of personal engagement and local traditions of crafts and construction” of the project, acknowledging it to be a building “made for children” with scale and components created with the children in mind. They praised Condition_Lab for setting out to “realise a building with the community, for the community”.
Celebrating its 15th year, the World Architecture Festival is among the most prestigious architectural prizes in the world. The 2022 World Architecture Festival was held in Lisbon, Portugal. It received 772 entries from more than 50 countries. Of the entries, 479 were shortlisted and nominated to present at the live-judged awards programme. On the last day of the festival, the Pingtan Children’s Library was awarded World Interior of the Year, one of the event’s four highest accolades; as well as the Best Use of Natural Light Prize, one of 14 special prizes.
The project has previously won the Grand Award at the DFA Design for Asia Awards 2022, as well as a Highly Commended Award at the Dezeen Awards 2022 in the Cultural Building category.