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China’s Seaside Library Mimics the Rhythms of the Ocean

The ultimate beach read.

Reading alone by the ocean as the waves crash before you is one of the great, rare, solitary pleasures. Now, at Nandaihe Pleasure City’s seashore library, you can see what that feeling looks like converted into architecture.

When Dong Gong, the architect behind this creation, was brainstorming ideas for a seashore library, he casually glanced over a picture that was lying on his desk, of a painting by American realist Andrew Wyeth. It depicts an old man sitting on some rocks, staring at the waves. It evokes a sense of loneliness, Gong explains, but also a deep connection with nature, which he tried to imbue in his 5,000-square-foot structure.

The library is arranged in tiers, with the books in the back, and a dramatic wall of windows and doors facing the East China Sea, so every reader can enjoy the unobstructed view from wherever they are sitting. Or, as the architect puts it, the library is like “an auditorium and the sea is the ongoing play.” Further, all the spaces have been designed to maximize natural light and fresh air at specific times of day, to mimic the ocean’s natural rhythms.

It seems to call for something more than your average beach paperback. Death in Venice, maybe? The Woman in the Dunes? The Sea, or The Sea, The Sea?