Cool Bookish Places

Beijing’s Breathtaking Stick and Glass Library

Rachel Smalter Hall

Staff Writer

Rachel Smalter Hall may be a professional Book Rioter, but she still hangs out in the public librarian clubhouse. Two of her top three loves include audiobooks and knitting, and her favorite song is Cold Hearted Snake as performed by Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese on season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She co-runs a boozy book club in Lawrence, Kansas, in her spare time. Twitter: @rach_smalls Website: Rachel Smalter Hall

How do you create a breathtakingly modern reading space that doesn’t compete with the natural wooded beauty of rural Beijing?

You build a minimal glass cube and cover it up with sticks. At least that’s what you do if you’re brilliant architect Li Xiaodong Atelier.

Liyuang Library Beijing China

Positioned within the small Jiaojiehe village, the Liyuan Library is about two hours from Beijing’s dense urban center in Huairou County, nestled within an awesome forested mountain landscape.

Liyuang Library Beijing China

The architect used ordinary sticks to form a screen that conceals the library’s glass facade. And talk about reclaimed materials: the sticks were found scattered around the village in woodpiles used as fuel for cooking stoves. (It doesn’t get any more local than that.)


The interior of the 175 meter glass cube uses simple steps, platforms, and integrated shelving to create distinct seating areas, and the stick exterior scatters sunlight evenly throughout the space for an otherworldly reading ambiance.

Liyuang Library Beijing China

Visitors have to walk about five minutes from the village center to reach the library. The architects designed it this way on purpose because they wanted visitors to be able to clear their thoughts for reading and quiet contemplation during the short walk. 

Liyuang Library Beijing China

How incredible is that?


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