Chinese architectural firm carves cultural spaces into ancient quarries

Chinese studio DnA_Design and Architecture has converted a series of former stone quarries in China’s Zhejiang Province into cultural spaces, making careful and mindful insertions into their hand-carved interiors, reported Dezeen Magazine.

The area, comprised of abandoned quarries, is undergoing a regeneration with the project aiming to draw more tourist and activity to the area.

Beijing-based DnA_Design and Architecture was commissioned to transform nine of the excavated pits, three of which are now complete.

These three spaces have now been transformed to accommodate a library, performance venue and an area for gathering.

Drawing on the rich history of monuments and rock inscriptions in the region, the studio focused on highlighting the natural state of the quarries as much as possible.

“The project is an ecological improvement to mend the interrupted nature,” the studio told Dezeen. “The reuse of these abandoned quarries reconnects the local community with its thousand-year history and heritage.”

“The project is a rather minimal intervention, a micro-renovation and upgrade, addressing the possibility of spatial transformation of different quarries,” the studio continued.

Each quarry features a distinctive form and patterns as a result of having been largely excavated by hand, which informed their designs as pieces of “public infrastructure”.

The first space, Quarry 8, has been turned into a library. Existing stone platforms have been retained and adapted with new concrete steps and seating areas have been constructed from steel and pressed bamboo.

Cabinets containing books have been built into the large steps of the quarry, whose tapering already forms sheltered areas for reading.

“Each platform is a multicultural study where one can read, practice calligraphy from stone rubbings and, in the future, access e-books,” said the studio.

The second pit, Quarry 9, is used as a performance space due to the acoustic properties of its tapering. A flat stone stage and sunken seating area have been added at its base.

Quarry 10, the third space, has been transformed into an area for demonstrating the process of stone quarrying. It features a stepped seating area and wooden details that unify it with the rest.

All three spaces house artificial lighting in order to highlight irregular shapes and markings across the stone surfaces.