The UCCA Dune Art Museum was designed and brought to life by Li Hu and Huang Wenjing of OPEN Architecture. This stunning structure is located on a strip of sand on the Bohai Sea in North China. The 10,000 sq. ft. museum is mostly hidden and is literally buried within one of the last remaining natural dune formations.

Outside views of the museum only show a few tubular skylights, a stair tower and a few sightings of parabolic concrete shells. From the inside, visitors will see how daylight filters into the seven galleries which are dome-like spaces that shape-shift with the formation and can capture captivating views from the three terraces that open to the sea. One of the coolest features of the museum is its ability to track the sky. Two of the skylights orient to the sun at the summer and winter solstices. Huang states, “We wanted to encourage people to think about their relationship with art, and with nature.”

The dune was originally designed to cohabitate art and dining, but halfway through the project art stole the spotlight. One of the planned kitchens was redesigned into the museums only rectangular gallery.

The original plans had called for the entire structure to be casted in concrete, but the curvature created by the dune formation made it unclear how that would be done successfully. The architects used local contractors who had experience in boat construction and could create complex curves in wood. Due to the curves being such an issue to work with, the architects and contractors needed to be flexible and many impromptu decisions were made. If wood proved to be too complicated, the workers would adapt and use sheet metal and rubber tubing instead. The flaws of the new materials were to be smoothed over with plaster, but upon seeing how beautiful the imperfections were, they decided to embrace them.

The UCCA Dune Art Museum is one of two with the “Sea Museum” to be constructed soon. The new museum will only be reached by a 500-foot-long causeway designed to disappear at high tide beneath the rising waters.

Read more about the UCCA Dune Art Museum here