Keystone Academy Library

Beijing / China / 2016

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At Luke Hughes our philosophy is to respond, in the language of craft and design, not only to an architectural style, but also to the cultural traditions at work in the institutions and diverse buildings for which our bespoke library furniture is destined.


As a project, the High School Library of Keystone Academy Beijing offered a richer level of cultural engagement than most, neatly capturing the persistent ‘East meets West’ conundrum as a direct theme.


Founded in 2014, Keystone sees itself as a world school founded on three keystones: bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; building character and community throughout a residential setting; and promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context. 


 


Unusually for us, this story is all about the interior, where there was more a less a clean slate but an unprecedentedly rich inspirational palette of myth, magic, and humanity’s entire legacy of letters. It was, to all intents and purposes, a clean pallet for us to demonstrate our bespoke library furniture design capabilities.


Keystone Director of Libraries Song Jingming’s personal shelf of books provided much of the early inspiration. From Kahlil Gibran to Thoreau’s Walden in Mandarin, Robert Frost next to Tao Te Ching, patterns of porcelain and 300 Tang poems –all close to her desk. Although she had never left greater China, she was completely absorbed by English literature, or rather literature in the English language – what it meant and what it might mean.


 


The brief was to create a space that was a blend of eastern and western aesthetics and sensibilities, but also to reflect the 21st century world of digital communication and the notion of unlimited access to unlimited information in the bespoke library furniture and decor.


As the project evolved, it became as much part of the brief to convey the values of European and American libraries as they have developed over the last 1000 years, as to project the ethos of Keystone as a modern Chinese institution with an international flavour.


Before designing the library furniture, there was the research and, indeed, the task of making the basic contract-finish interior a suitable blank canvas.


Schematic design began with layouts, aiming to establish how the space would work; how flexible it could be, how the lighting would work, how to create well-lit spaces which are also sheltered from the sun. Then came the research into China references, drawing from a whole range of elements and images including an exhibition of silk paintings at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum or a picture of an old Ming dynasty scholar falling asleep over his books.


 

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    At Luke Hughes our philosophy is to respond, in the language of craft and design, not only to an architectural style, but also to the cultural traditions at work in the institutions and diverse buildings for which our bespoke library furniture is destined. As a project, the High School Library of Keystone Academy Beijing offered a richer level of cultural engagement than most, neatly capturing the persistent ‘East meets West’ conundrum as a direct theme. Founded in 2014,...

    Project details
    • Year 2016
    • Work finished in 2016
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Colleges & Universities / Research Centres/Labs / Libraries
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