The Diving Library 

Designer: Chao-Chun Wei
Time: 2020 summer    
Location: fictional site  


Straddling the valley at the northeast tip of the island, Library Joseph is marked by its undulating titanium roof paring with cinnabar bricks and titanium panel facade. Entering from the entrance hall surrounded by fig trees, small music performances immerse the space with classical elegance. This hall was connected to the main building with a sinuous tunnel.

The main building serves as the counterpoint of various realms and forms of knowledge and thoughts, with open-plan workshops, reading spaces, discussions and studies stretching all around the central void. Sunlight flooded through the space casting vibrant shadows on the sculptural interior, voids allowing the gentle sea breeze to hover inside while also introducing in the splendor view around, putting the building in the midst of the whole. Downwards, the slope leads to the grand stair with book shelves flanking both sides. There’s bar, cafe’, and bespoke curving furnishing along the axis, which lead all the way down to the “diving” framed view of the sea. The bookshelves expand all the way up to the book storage wing, in which a separate spiral stair form the main circulation. Through creating a constant switch between interior/semi-exterior and various forms of spatial experience, the design look forward to provide a place not just for book storage and reading, but where different thoughts—including those from books and from people inside— encounters spontaneously anywhere, facilitating empowering interaction and inspiration. In company with new technology including robots and machine arms, modern library was redefined.

Here, in search for the greatness of collision, a space as such is born.


It was like a story telling: a world built, then settings given, and one, along with others, are a group of architects invited to put their design into this piece of masterplan.

The “terrain” got(crafted) in the previous session was put into coalition, and with addition and deletion yields an island with a fantastic setting:

Some day in 2100, plate movement put rise an underwater ancient heritage built with fabulous structural engineering. Its proximity from land can be reached by drones, fairy and small aircrafts. A masterplan was then activated, with six architects tasked to design site specific architecture on different part of the island to form the whole development.

This is the so-called off-grid paradise, I perceive – a world of strait cliffs and dramatic, rolling valleys surrounded by the splendor of the ocean. With this in mind I came up with the thought of designing a library here.

After coalition, my terrain(ground)(site) sits at the north-eastern part of the island with two side facing the ocean. A 1:200 scale model was made to further study the possible massing scheme on the island. In the physical modeling process, I looked for the ideal relationship between space, sight and envisage the possible scene with people and what they’re doing. Through modeling with different scale, I get some sense of size in mind. At the same time my sketching never stopped exploring various planar massing arrangements—finally, with all that I went into 3d modeling. Library Joseph gradually took shape, with a bold sculptural form resonating the inspirations from the previous session— and, greatest thing is that—I love it.

When the “raw massing” was put into instant rendering for a fast go-around, I was pretty sure that this is that kind of space I would like to do in this project. Then I start to add in configuration and circulation schemes. I gave the mass that seems to run straight down to the sea a valley of book shelves flanking the two sides, with the center a grand stairway down to the framed sea view. On it there’s fixed curving chairs designed according the slope of the stair, ergonomically. I found myself enjoy plugging in fixtures that exists nowhere but here. I also love the dynamic pops of materials weaving through the interiors—its like the Japanese dessert of sprinkling the gold powder on the black cake, low-profile in essence, but eye catching.

Coming up with the entrance hall was interesting. I first get the idea that my “entering experience” will be “a space with resonating classical music”, believing in the indispensable magic classical music bears—purifying and delighting. And I thought that it could be like a grand music box in front. I experimented with all the iterations I came up with, but none of them really satisfied me—until I started adding one onto another, and it looks just great! It’s like a hermit crab, one fitting in another, forming a subterranean hall and a high shell above.

The idea of being at the vague boundary of inside and outside is appealing. As one circulate the main route upward, a sense of being inside and half-outside switch intermittently, and occasionally the adjoining valley and building beyond was on the left and then the boundless blue sea emerge on the right and suddenly the sunset appears in front. This is all arranged under a canopy of titanium roof sweeping over the top. When the sea breeze blow in they hover and flood the space, and when sunset the light reflected all over the titanium panels dyeing the library with warmth of color. In fact, that’s when I love it the most—it is just gorgeous.