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19 Nov 2017

Tianjin Binhai Library. China’s Futuristic and Controversial New Library

Tianjin Binhai Library, located just outside Beijing, features a luminous spherical atrium with bookshelves lining the walls, from floor to ceiling. What looks to be a book lover's ultimate fantasy could ultimately house 1.2 millions tomes.

Text description provided by the architects. MVRDV in collaboration with local architects TUPDI has completed the library, a 33,700m2 cultural centre featuring a luminous spherical auditorium around which floor-to-ceiling bookcases cascade. The undulating bookshelf is the building’s main spatial device, and is used both to frame the space and to create stairs, seating, the layered ceiling and even louvres on the façade. Tianjin Binhai Library was designed and built in a record-breaking time of only three years due to a tight schedule imposed by the local municipality. Next to many media rooms it offers space for 1,2 million books.


The building’s mass extrudes upwards from the site and is ‘punctured’ by a spherical auditorium in the centre. Bookshelves are arrayed on either side of the sphere and act as everything from stairs to seating, even continuing along the ceiling to create an illuminated topography. These contours also continue along the two full glass facades that connect the library to the park outside and the public corridor inside, serving as louvres to protect the interior against excessive sunlight whilst also creating a bright and evenly lit interior.



“The Tianjin Binhai Library interior is almost cave-like, a continuous bookshelf. Not being able to touch the building’s volume we ‘rolled’ the ball shaped auditorium demanded by the brief into the building and the building simply made space for it, as a ‘hug’ between media and knowledge” says Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “We opened the building by creating a beautiful public space inside; a new urban living room is its centre. The bookshelves are great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors. The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing. Together they form the ‘eye’ of the building: to see and be seen.”






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