OPEN Architecture - A thoughtful design both respects the history of the site and the ecology of the seashore: Sea Square
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A thoughtful design both respects the history of the site and the ecology of the seashore: Sea Square

OPEN Architecture

Mixed Use  /  Future
OPEN Architecture

While searching for a site to build an oceanfront communal service building, we discovered the ruin of a fishing-boat repair facility—a square platform with a jetty projecting far and down to the ocean, embedded with metal tracks for pulling boats out of the water and into positions. Although long abandoned and dilapidated, the concrete foundation and the dock remained useable, and their very existence made possible that a humble building be integrated into the site. Thus came the idea of the Sea Square – a Quad floating above a Square by the Sea. A third square was later introduced—a small floating square dock near the tip of the jetty which only appears at low tides, for people to get close to water. Together the three squares and the jetty form a lively space for culture and leisure.

Collective memories: the existing platform and jetty, including the metal tracks embedded in the ground, have been preserved and restored. The jetty to the ocean seems to be at once pointing both to the past and the future. Float and Protect: The floating two-story building frames a stunning view of the ocean, allowing free flow of energy across the park, the central square, and the sea. Carved out of local granite Shanhui stone, the building mirrors the outline of the dock below, quiet yet surely protecting the square below and the memories of the place. Communal Cultural life: The Sea Square will be a gathering place for the locals, connecting the nearby urban community to the sea with a vibrant cultural and leisure program, including library, restaurant, café, and beach services.

The project maximizes the use of old materials from the original site. The top surface of the jetty retains the original concrete track, and is infilled with pebble stone from the same region. The sloping seawall is mostly made of reclaimed stone from the original site. Light weight and factory prefabricated steel structure ensures minimum disturbance to the ocean front site and speedy construction time. The façade is cladded with locally quarried Shanshui stone, a type of granite with distinctive patterns like ink dissolved in water.

Fishing villages have gradually disappeared along with waves of urbanization. Yet discovering this forgotten boat repair dock with a jetty revealed to us traces of lost history. The crumbled jetty withstood the erosion of time and tides, stubbornly maintained its decisive angle as it plunges into the sea. We decided to keep a very light touch and to bring back the lost memories into the future. The jetty and the boat tracks on it will be restored to their original state. The serenity of the jetty diagonally disappearing into the water will be kept, with nothing beyond except the ocean and the sky above. The square boat repair dock will be restored and turned into a paved public plaza. Metal bands embedded into the plaza pavement recalls the old metal tracks for pulling boats to places. The two-story quad building floating above the plaza takes the exact outline of the square dock below. While delineating the spatial boundary of the plaza, the building also cradles and protects it, together with the memories of the place. The plaza will be an important community gathering place, hosting weekend free markets and ceremonial events on important days, including traditional fishing-village festivities like the Yu Deng Festival. Misting devices and fountains are incorporated into the plaza to provide a joyful experience.

The ground floor has a café, stores, and public restrooms. The second floor has a library, a restaurant/bar, and an outdoor terrace for performances and lectures.

A thoughtful design both respects the history of the site and the ecology of the seashore.


 Planning Bureau of Yantai Huangbohai New Area
 Cultural and leisure spaces for the community, open to the public
 1658 mq
 OPEN Architecture
 Li Hu, Huang Wenjing, LIU Xiaoyang, SHI Bingjie, CAO Mengxing, LU Di, Daijiro Nakayama, WEI Zihao, XU Jiayue


OPEN is an architecture office collaborating across different disciplines to practice urban design, landscape design, architectural design, and interior design, as well as the research and production of design strategies in the context of new challenges. We believe in the innovative power of architecture to transform people and the way they live, while striking a new balance between manmade and nature. OPEN was founded by LI Hu and HUANG Wenjing in New York City, and established the Beijing office in 2008.

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