On a quiet beach along the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is carved into the sand, where it gently disappears. Countless years of wind have pushed the beach’s sand into a dune along the shore several meters high, stabilized by low-rising shrubs and other ground cover. Inspired by children’s tireless digging in the sand, the museum lies beneath this dune. “Digging” creates a series of interconnected, organically shaped spaces which, enveloped by sand, resemble caves—the primeval home of man, whose walls were once a canvas for some of humanity’s earliest works of art. Hidden between the sea and the sand, the design of the Dune Art Museum is simple, pure, and touching—a return to primal and timeless forms of space. The decision to create the art museum underneath the dunes surrounding it was born out of both the architects’ deep reverence for nature and their desire to protect the vulnerable dune ecosystem, formed by natural forces over thousands of years. Because of the museum, these sand dunes will be preserved instead of leveled to make space for ocean-view real estate developments, as has happened to many other dunes along the shore.
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