You immerse yourself in a world that only you can enter when you read. But in the next Beijing Public Library you will be sharing worlds with other readers.
In 2018, the design studio Snøhetta (I talked about it several times here)and theEast China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI) they won an international design competition to create a public library in Beijing. The new Beijing Sub-Center Library is now under construction: it will be inaugurated by the end of the year. And it's a spectacle.
A forest in the library
The design challenges conventional notions of a public library, eliminating separations and allowing passersby to see inside. According to the architecture firm, the facade includes insulated, transparent floor-to-ceiling glass panels up to 16 meters (52 feet) high, making it the country's first freestanding glass facade project.
The surrounding environment can now draw on a real "forest of knowledge".
The designers imagine a scenario where visitors coexist at all times, embracing the ideals of openness and inclusion. Everyone can relax in the soothing shade of a huge canopy, inspired by ginkgo forests, and share knowledge or exchange ideas.
The main stairs of the library have amphitheater steps that form a “valley” between pedestrian paths. The space celebrates Chinese culture while also incorporating its technological, artistic and scientific knowledge.
The building's integrated air conditioning, rainwater distribution, lighting and acoustic system are all housed in the tall columns, the “trees” that make up this forest of culture. The roof is also equipped with a photovoltaic system integrated into the building (BIPV) which harvests renewable energy from the sun while providing sufficient shade with its overhang.
“Not all who wander are lost,” Tolkien wrote in a famous poem. Looking at this library, welcoming and imposing (it has something in its 'naturalistic' approach that also reminds me of the interior of the Sagrada Familia, albeit with substantial differences), one can only agree. A paradise for those who love to read: it fills my heart with hope for the future of modern libraries. I'm sure we'll see more beautiful public spaces like this in cities across the planet in the coming years.