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Buried beneath a sand dune, in the beach town of Beidaihe, nestles one of China’s newest art galleries. An offshoot of the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing, 300km away, the ucca Dune is unlike any other cutting-edge art museum in China. Most are high-profile architectural statements, erected in the middle of bustling cities. The Dune is subtle and secluded, its galleries unfolding against the backdrop of the sands.

Interdependence with the landscape and the local community is at the heart of the Dune’s purpose. It aims to be sustainable ecologically as well as financially, and to help protect the environment rather than destroying it. “Our work was not just to design a physical structure,” says Li Hu of open Architecture, one of the overseers of the project, but to “dream up an entirely new type of institution.”

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