A Cave-Like Art Museum Submerged in Sand Dunes


Photography by Wu Qingshan

The UCCA Dune Art Museum is a new concrete, sustainable, Modern styled Art Museum; snuggled beneath the sand along the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay in Qinhuangdao. The museum which opened in October 2018 was designed by Beijing-based OPEN Architecture. The architects were inspired by the natural esthetic of sand dunes and how they are created by the flow of wind. They proposed the idea of positioning the museum structure within the sand dunes to help protect both the land and the ecosystem.

Photography by Wu Qingshan

The 10,000 square foot museum houses 10 galleries; seven indoor and three outdoor, a cafe, and a reading room. Tunnel like skylights which vary in size and shape are scattered throughout the museum to allow natural light to pour into the space. The unique openings allow visitors to intimately connect with the outdoor elements from below ground.

Photography by Wu Qingshan

A key focus of this project was sustainability and the preservation of the sand dunes instead of being leveled for other projects such as real estate development, which was a common issue with other dunes along the shore. "The building’s many skylights, each with a different orientation and size, provide natural lighting for the museum’s spaces at all times of the year; its sand-covered roof greatly reduces the building’s summer heat load; and a low-energy, zero-emission ground-source heat pump system replaces traditional air conditioning," as stated by the firm.


Photography by Wu Qingshan

The UCCA Dune Art Museum also has plans for future expansion which will include a new smaller museum with a walkway that extends to the ocean. The sister museum will also be designed by OPEN, will be partially submerged by water and only accessible during low tide. When the tide is low, the walkway will lead visitors to the solitary Sea Art Museum, a boxy, open-air structure built like a rock. That project is still currently under construction.

Photography by Wu Qingshan

Photography by Wu Qingshan

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