1. Home
  2. Design Culture
  3. Places
  4. UCCA Dune Art Museum: a museum hidden in the sand

UCCA - Dune Art Museum (ph: WU Qingshan)

| Designbest editorial staff


lunar landscape, a quiet beach and a museum that protrudes from the sand dunes. Located on the coast of the Bohai Bay, in the north of China, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is a multifunctional space hidden in the folds of nature.

Designed by studio OPEN Architecture, the UCCA Dune Art Museum occupies an area of 930 sqm at the feet of a large sand dune, naturally formed thousands of years ago by wind blowing from the sea. An ambitious project, it was inspired by the type of games children generally play on the beach as well as a longing to preserve the vulnerable ecosystem of the dunes.

As you approach the museum, you feel as if you were staring at a group of primitive caverns, although its magic is instantly perceived as you step inside. Following a tiny foyer housed in a dark tunnel, the space unexpectedly transforms into a large multifunctional room, lit up by a skylight. Here, a succession of ten galleries, in dazzling white, form a structure that recalls a beehive. Light additionally filters from a combination of big and small portholes that pierce the ceiling, brightening up the space all-year round.  

Interiors and exteriors are interconnected. In near darkness, you cross galleries/caves (there’s a bar too) to catch unexpected glimpses of the sea and the sky besides, from a spiral staircase (its architecture resembles a large shell) you reach a panoramic viewpoint on a sand dune. A complex shell in concrete shaped by hand by skilled workers (who in part were ex naval contractors) creates a deliberately imperfect three-dimensional structure. All the aspects of the museum are in fact bespoke designs that combine industrial style, traditional Venetian flooring, velvety textures as well as bolder choices, constantly evoking different feels.

UCCA Dune Art Museum is a magical location, an actual work of art that with its organic silhouette creates a futuristic feel. In the future, a walkway is going to link the museum to the sea: during low tide visitors are going to be able walk to the Sea Art Museum that stands as a solitary rock in the ocean.


Where: UCCA Dune Art Museum, Qinhuangdao, Bohai Bay, China


share on: