“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain
We have always imagined good libraries as very quiet places but the truth is that there is much more behind this kind of space which makes us so productive. In addition to silence, we also enjoy some privacy, little corners are greatly appreciated. Daylight plays a very important role and high ceilings which help to reflect that light makes us feel comfortable and relaxed. However, all this is not enough, libraries are an architecture result which make people interested in culture too, in the unknown, they help us be more creative…
Wonder what are some of the most recent libraries in the world? Here you have some examples. My favourite is #10 (kind of atypical) which one is yours?
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1. Stuttgart City Library
The site for the Stuttgart City Library was chosen in Mailänder Platz, an area that is perceived to be a future city centre growing out of the location of the library. With this in mind, the architects chose to physically express the importance of this cultural centre by giving the building a grand physical presence. The building takes the form of cube with an edge length of 45 meters. Read more here.
Location: Stuttgart (Germany)
Architect: Yi Architects
2. Qatar National Library
© Iwan Baan
Qatar National Library contains Doha’s National Library, Public Library and University Library, and preserves the Heritage Collection, which consists of valuable texts and manuscripts related to the Arab-Islamic civilization. The public library will house over a million books and space for thousands of readers over an area of 42,000 m2. The library is part of the Education City, a new academic campus which hosts satellite campuses from leading universities and institutions from around the world. Read more here.
Location: Doha (Qatar)
3. Tama Art University Library
This is a library for an art university located in the suburbs of Tokyo. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden with small and large trees, and stretches up a gentle slope. The existing cafeteria was the sole place in the university shared by both students and staff members across all disciplines, so the first impetus for our design was to question how an institution as specialised as a library could provide an open commonality for all. Read more here.
Location: Tokyo (Japan)
Architect: Toyo Ito
4. Sant Josep Library
The library is a detached building within green surroundings splashed with trees that penetrate into the openings of the building. It is a prism box where the interior fragments with planes that flow between the spaces of the layout of the library. Between two fissures, the building opens to the exterior and allows the interior spaces to reach out to the vegetation that surrounds all of the building. Thanks to the winding plan of the interior, each area of the library is an intimate and reserved component. The surroundings give unity, continuity and fluency to the spaces. Read more here.
Location: Valencia (Spain)
Architect: Ramon Esteve
5. Tianjin Binhai Library
MVRDV in collaboration with local architects TUPDI has completed the Tianjin Binhai 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. Read more here.
Location: Tianjin (China)
Architect: MVRDV + Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute
6. Maranello Library
The building borders with a residential court on the north, with a public green area on the west, with a residential building on the south built in adherence and with other residential buildings on the East and partially in adherence. The project we propose presents a surface equal to 1175 mq. It is the existing building renovation trough the existing north perimeter walls maintenance, east and south confining with some residential offices, the demolition of the central part of the prefabricated and the construction of a library as a volume contained within the old building’s height limits and devoloped partly outside the earth and partly under the earth. Read more here.
Location: Maranello (Italy)
Architect: Andrea Maffei Architects
7. Law Library at University of Zürich
As part of an effort to centralize the University’s Law School’s facilities, which were dispersed throughout eight different buildings, the Canton of Zurich and the University commissioned Calatrava to prepare a study for an addition of two storeys to a landmarked building’s wings and raise the building structure to its original height and to house its administration offices and classrooms. Calatrava’s proposal expanded the original project scope and provides a new facility for the law school’s distinguished library and rare books collection within the landmarked building. The result is as if the new parts were floating in the courtyard. Pay attention to the white beams, have you noticed them? Read more here.
Location: Zürich (Switzerland)
Architect: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
8. LSE Library
The London School of Economics and Political Science has the world’s largest and most important social sciences library. The redevelopment of the library building safeguards the future of the school’s four million books by improving environmental standards, and provides 500 extra student workplaces and new accommodation for the school’s Research Centre. A central atrium has been created by removing the façades of an internal lightwell and extending the floor-plates to encircle a cylindrical space. This increases the floor area, improves circulation and introduces daylight into the heart of the building. The atrium has been driven through to the basement and houses a helical ramp and a pair of glass lifts, which provide the main vertical circulation through the building. Read more here.
Location: London (UK)
Architect: Foster + Partners
9. LiYuan Library
Located on the outskirts of Beijing, the single-storey Liyuan Library houses its collection of books within a chunky timber frame. Stepped platforms integrate low level shelves and provide seating areas for readers. The firm, known for reflecting the Chinese culture and sensibilities on their buildings, carefully chose wood as the main material of the construction. Locals gather wooden sticks — like those used on the façade — all year round to fuel their cooking stoves. Therefore, the building naturally blends into the idyllic location nearby the mountains, also picked by the architects. Read more here.
Location: Beijing (China)
Architect: Li Xiaodong Atelier
10. The Garden Library for Refugees and Migrant Workers
The Garden Library for Refugees and Migrant Workers was founded in 2010 as a social-artistic urban community project. The project sees the right to a book as a fundamental human right and a possibility of both escape and shelter from daily misfortunes. The library is located in the Levinski Park, by the Tel Aviv central bus station. The park is the place migrant workers congregate on weekends. It was important for us that the library come to the people, that those who maintain illegal immigrant status will come without fear, that the library would not have a closed door or a guard at the entrance who would check and ask questions. Read more here.
Location: Tel Aviv (Israel)
Architect: Yoav Meiri Architects
11. Hunter Points Library
Located on a prominent site along the East River, against the backdrop of rapidly built skyscraper condominiums, the 22,000 square foot Queens Public Library at Hunters Point stands as a public building and public park, bringing community-devoted space to the Long Island City waterfront. Resisting recent trends of incorporating public libraries and much-needed social space within high- end residential towers, the Hunters Point Library stands independently, rising with a minimal footprint on its 32,000 square foot site to offer maximum surrounding green space to the local community and becoming an integrated part of the vibrant public park that lines the river’s edge. Read more here.
Location: New York (US)
Architect: Steven Holl Architects
My favourite is number 10 too. It reminds me of the old school libraries of my youth. It’s very manageable and friendly and it is the book more than the building which takes precedence.
Lovely to see all the different libraries though. Very enjoyable post.
That is exactly what I like about it, it is very manageable. Also, I think it is the one that makes the most out of the space, not even 50 sqm! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Incredible space management!! Beautiful buildings by the way!
Some of them are amazing projects! And so much more is behind the form. All of them are outstanding examples of sustainability!
some wonderful places to read… my favourite has to be the alvar aalto (and those fabulous red reading nooks), but 10 is wonderful and proves a library isn’t necessarily about big bold architecture.
Yes, the addition to the Alvar Aalto one is a gem of architecture! Never been there and yet it looks amazing!
Fantastic post! You have inspired me to take photos of our the Vancouver Public Library!!! Wherever there is a library, there is hope…
I agree! There will be a Part II of this post so keep me updated with upcoming constructions 🙂
These are beautiful structures. Who would not want to go in, sit down and open a book. Thanks for the visit and the like of my post “Peeling Back Slowly”.
You’re welcome 🙂
Thanks a lot for your visit to my blog,
I also like yours!
Best regards from Madrid
Muchas gracias 🙂
Great places to go and spend some time with my Kindle.
As for preferences, while I like the idea behind #10, I would have to go with #7.
Yes, 7 is a very good choice. Number of visitors increased since they built this new library. Stunning how a building can change our habits. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Glad you liked it 🙂
This post here is a collectible, for sure! I love it! The Garden Library is the best… for so many reasons. And all the others a close second. Indeed, a good library can inspire a person to many greatnesses.
Have a great week ahead!
I agree with you! And the rest are really good projects. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Amazing buildings – all of them! … Have you managed to actually visit any?
I was very lucky and had the chance to visit the Scottish and Spanish ones! Really effective places! Had you?
Love all of them but 4 is my favourite.
Good choice too 😉
I don’t think I’d get much reading done- I’d be too gob-smacked! These are awesome structures. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Me neither, at least the first few weeks… months maybe! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
very cool list, i was surprised to see that the german library i see photos of on 500px was not listed, i cannot remember its name though!
Mmm… right now I don’t know which one are you referring to. It’s in Germany but do you know the city? or do you remember any of its features?
I love the architecture but feel I may not get much reading done in any of them as I would be staring at the beautiful buildings! I like to curl up somewhere cosy and warm with my book! And that is what I am doing this afternoon, curling up with the Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, with no distractions. Perfect!
I wouldn’t get any reading done either! Some spaces are just amazing. Your Sunday afternoon plan sounds delightful, good music and a book, nothing better 🙂
These are divine and heavenly
Thanks for the kind comment 🙂
Hey i have been checking your blogs since past two hours !
they are very interesting , and you seem like a very curious person !
anyways…i would also have added..
VANCOUVER central library by moshe safdie, and louis kahn’s IIM , AHMEDABAD, INDIA LIBRARY ( i have been in it and its just so magnificent) also his phillip exeter library !
Thanks very much for your kind words 🙂 I was thinking on doing part II of this post so your contributions are very welcome. I haven’t visited any of those so can’t wait to do some research. What did you think about the Ahmedabad library? Is it luminous?
Thanks for this summary. As a art history teacher when I talk about models and influences in architecture styles such as, for example, High Tech, Organicism, Deconstructivism… these buildings are good examples.
And another thing, thanks very much for sharing this !!!
… se dice: “El claustro de alumnos/profesores hoy dia es el mundo”
Y dijo Lucio Aenneo Séneca hace ya unos siglos en época romana: “Si me ofreciesen la sabiduría con la condición de guardarla para mí sin comunicarla a nadie, no la querría”.
Thanks so much for your insight and for bringing in your point of view as a teacher. We will have to wait some time to figure out what are the results from this buildings in terms of usability!
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Great post, Virginia! Have you ever seen photos of the undergraduate library at UCSD? Fascinating design. About twenty years ago I got the chance to be on campus for a few days. The library was really cool.
I have never visited the library, definitely on my list. So many wonderful buildings to visit. What did you think of it? it looks awesome 😀
I guess it is called The Geisel Library, after Dr. Suess.https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/5e/84/ed/5e84ed6e5973ae9bef33826b43b206ce.jpg
I can see why heheh 😉
Such a cool concept, a bit weird that it increases its mass volume when going up. It’s normally the other way round!
If you ever visit Los Angeles, I recommend visiting the William H. Hannon Library on the Loyola Marymount University campus. It is situated on the edge of a bluff and has a circular view of Los Angeles.
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Stuttgart library does seem like the perfect place to study & take some Instagram-worthy pictures. My husband recently applied for a Germany visa as we want to spend some relaxing time together. We intend on visiting popular attractions in Berlin & Munich. However, your blog has prompted us to plan a short trip to Stuttgart so that we can explore this renowned