Rotterdam, Netherlands-based architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled a massive public library with out-of-this world glowing, undulating interiors in the center of the Binhai district in Tianjin, China, a coastal metropolis outside Beijing.
Measuring 33,700 square meters, or about 363,000 square feet, the Tianjin Binhai Library comprises what is essentially a glass box sheathed in horizontal louvers that correspond to the “continuous” floor-to-ceiling system of bookcases that appears to “cascade” down the interior walls.
Anchoring the cavernous space is a luminous orb at the center of the main floor that also functions as an auditorium. The surrounding shelves, which also become stairs, seating, and a layered ceiling, seem to emanate from and respond to the globe. The effect is quite dramatic, creating an inside-out topography that envelopes the visitor.
The library is made up of five floors that accommodate educational facilities, reading rooms, offices, and lounges set along the interior walls, while the basement level includes storage for books, a large archive, and service areas.
Winy Maas, cofounder of MVRDV, described the library as an “urban living room”:
We opened the building by creating a beautiful public space inside [...] 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 [...] Together they form the ‘eye’ of the building: to see and be seen.
With space for over one million books, the Tianjin Binhai Library was completed in a record-breaking time of three years. Have a look.