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Dune Art Space

On a quiet stretch of beach along the coast of Bohai Bay in northern China, OPEN designed two art spaces: one hidden in the sand dunes, like mysterious caves; one rising out of the sea, like a solitary piece of rock. A long walkway stretching in between connects the sand and the sea, the art and the people. The two spaces create a silent dialogue by the sea.

Countless years of wind have pushed the sand into a strip of dune along the shore a few meters high, stabilized by the low rising shrubs and ground covers. Inspired by kids’ tireless digging in the sand, this art space is carved in the dunes. “Digging” creates a series of connected soft spaces, much like caves, the primal form of human inhabitance and the earliest site of man’s artistic creation. Between the sea and the sand, a hidden place emerges, intimate to the body and soul. It allows those who enter it to re-experience the long-lost childhood memory of putting a shell to the ear. Listening to the chimes of the sea in the temple of the spirit lets our bodies return to their original shelters.

The sea is constantly changing through different openings and at different moments. The light cannon sculpted by the path of the sun beams soft refracted daylight into the center of the space. Dancing around the curving surfaces in tiny steps, diffused light endows the place with a bright and uplifting spirit to produce a multi-functional gallery space. A giant sandglass lets time and natural light flow softly into the space.

With ever-changing expressions and temperaments, the sky and sea stimulate boundless creative energy. A spiral staircase leads to the lookout on the sand dune, guiding souls filled with curiosity to rise up from the caves, and be deeply touched by the vast openness of the sky and sea. Through a narrow passage, they leave the caves in the sand dunes and head toward the realm of the sea.

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