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MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

China Architecture News - Nov 3, 2017 - 11:07   23186 views

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

MVRDV, in collaboration with local architects TUPDI, has filled the interior of the new Tianjin Binhai Public Library with floor-to-ceiling cascaded bookshelves, creating a mountainous view and different spatial organisation with stairs, seating, the layered ceiling and even louvres on the façade. 

Opened this week in the cultural centre of Binhai district in Tianjin - a coastal metropolis outside Beijing, China, the 33,700-square-metre building challenges to the classical interior designs of common libraries and allows visitors to spend more time in the interior while experiencing multiple ways of reading with different movements. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Shining with a luminous spherical auditorium at the centre of the building, the undulated forms of bookshelves wrap the whole interior of the building with softy edges and delicate aesthetic. 

The undulating bookshelf is presented as 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. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Completed in only three years due to a tight schedule imposed by the local municipality from first sketch to the opening, the building consists of 1,2 million books alongside with media rooms. 

The library, located adjacent to a park, is one of a cluster of five cultural buildings designed by an international cadre of architects including Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects, HH Design and MVRDV. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

All buildings are connected by a public corridor underneath a glass canopy designed by GMP. Within the GMP masterplan MVRDV was given a strict volume within which all design was concentrated. MVRDV created a special building mass extruding upwards from the site and the building is 'punctured' by a spherical auditorium in the centre. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

"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," said the studio.  

"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."

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Offering extensive educational facilities throughout the building, these spaces are arrayed along the edges of the interior and accessible through the main atrium space. 

Public program is supported by subterranean service spaces, book storage, and a large archive. From the ground floor visitors can easily access reading areas for children and the elderly, the auditorium, the main entrance, terraced access to the floors above and connection to the cultural complex. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books and lounge areas whilst the upper floors also include meeting rooms, offices, computer and audio rooms and two roof top patios.

"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," said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

"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," Maas added.

"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."

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Due to the tight schedule of the local municipality, the strict program forced one essential part of the concept to be dropped: access to the upper bookshelves from rooms placed behind the atrium. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

"This change was made locally and against MVRDV’s advice and rendered access to the upper shelves currently impossible. The full vision for the library may be realised in the future, but until then perforated aluminium plates printed to represent books on the upper shelves. Cleaning is done via ropes and movable scaffolding," said MVRDV.

Breaking classical norms of the common libraries, the building has received great attention from public and local people of Tianjin since its opening on October 1 - many reviews described it as an "Ocean of Books" from CCTV and the "Most beautiful library of China" from The Bund.  

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Comments rise on social media and they call the building a "sea of knowledge", "Super Sci-Fi" or simply "The Eye". "Most importantly, it is clear that the people of Tianjin have embraced the new space - and that it has become the urban living room it was intended to be," explained MVRDV.

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Tianjin Binhai Library was built according to the Chinese Green Star energy efficiency label and has achieved two star status. MVRDV collaborated with Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), structural engineers Sanjiang Steel Structure Design, TADI interior architects and Huayi Jianyuan lighting design. 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Concept diagram 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Book mountain activities 

MVRDV’s topographical Tianjin Binhai Public Library featuring millions of books opens in China

Structural diagram, program and circulation

Tianjin Binhai Library is the second realised MVRDV project in Tianjin following TEDA Urban Fabric, completed in 2009. MVRDV is also currently working on a new urban green corridor called "Tainan Axis" in downtown Tainan, Taiwan, which recently started construction. 

MVRDV also unveiled plans for the Zhangjiang Future Park and Culture Centre in Pudong, Shanghai, which will combine communal public facilities with nature, culture, entertainment and green landscaped buildings and a public park blending into its surrounding. 

Winy Maas said: "Many of architects still continue to make copy-cat floor plans for public housing" in an exclusive interview with World Architecture Community. 

All images © Ossip van Duivdenbode

All drawings © MVRDV 

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