Beijing City Library Mysterious Treasures Journey Now Open

The world’s biggest climatized reading space, the Beijing City Library designed by Snøhetta, has been accessible to the public since its debut. This is the most recent addition to the library typology, having been implemented 35 years after the company began operations on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. Part of Tongzhou District, the glass-lined building lets nature into the reading area and, from the outside, gives transparency to the rich interior environment. Moreover, it establishes the area as both a flourishing neighbourhood and an addition to Beijing’s urban fabric. Snøhetta was selected to complete the Beijing City Library in 2018 in collaboration with local partner ECADI, following an international competition.

Remarking On The Importance Of Libraries In The Digital Age

A decade or so ago, the belief was that libraries were becoming obsolete since, with the advent of digitization, information could now be accessible from anywhere at any time. Snøhetta offers a novel concept for how the library ought to seem, operate, and interact with the community in order to regain its significance in the modern day. The Beijing City Library emphasises the materiality of a book as an object and the intentional process of flipping the pages to take in the written word as the primary experience, all set against the stunning backdrop of hills, trees, and the Tonghui river.

“The love people have for books is what has made libraries survive the digital age and hold new potential to give back more to the city and its public,” says Kjetil Traedal Thorsen, co-founder and partner of the firm. We have an obligation to reevaluate the relationship between the environment, the body, and the mind in order to reclaim the joy of reading away from a screen. There will always be libraries. Drawing on the legacy of libraries adjusting to the needs of its patrons, the structure’s primary purpose is now the unrestricted exchange of ideas and human interactions. There are dedicated spaces popping up everywhere for conferences, gatherings, exhibitions, and the preservation of old books.

Beijing City Library has opened doors for visitors

Recapitating The Gingko Leaves, Rivers, And Valleys Topology

The Beijing City Library is centred on a spacious welcome hall that rises in a succession of graceful, rhythmic arcs to a height of about 16 metres. The Valley, a meandering path excavated through the centre of the skyscraper, serves as its main circulation artery. Echoing the course of the nearby Tonghui river, the Valley connects the north and south gates, guiding guests to every other place within and broadening their view of the surrounding landscape.

The terraced hills rising from the Valley have moulded an interior landform that serves as shelves, benches, and a floor. It’s a casual location where individuals may relax, chat, or read quietly while still being connected to the larger area. Large, level areas are covered with book stacks and table seating, and conference rooms and semi-private reading areas are tucked into the hillsides. This center’s open area is fully accessible and features one of the biggest book Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) in the world.

The vast space is broken up by tall, thin columns that expand into flat panels shaped like ginkgo leaves, which alludes to a kind of indigenous Chinese tree that is 290 million years old. This creates a transition between the books and the vastness of the Valley. The overlapping panels and interstitial glass inserts create a canopy-like ceiling that allows for the entry of filtered daylight into the internal spaces. Reaching the peak beneath this canopy of ginkgo provides views of the valley of books and the broad sweep of the horizon.

Because of the tiered environment and tree-like columns, visitors are urged to gaze up and see the world from a distance. Greenwood says you may sit under a tree here and read your favourite book. Snøhetta’s Partner and Director of Asia Pacific, Robert Greenwood, notes that “the Beijing City Library has an intergenerational quality about it, where you would pass on your stories to children and introduce them to the titles you’ve loved.” At the northern and southern limits, where real ginkgo trees are planted at the entry points, the hills focus views outward to enhance the sense of being in sync with nature even more.

 A Modular Design Driven By Sustainable Technology

The Beijing City Library reinvents the way that libraries may employ cutting-edge technology to improve the experiences of their patrons while tackling the pressing climate challenges of the day. The building achieved China’s highest attainable sustainability grade, the GBEL Three Star, by lowering its operational and embodied carbon.

By using modular components and a simplified structural grid, the building’s manufacturing waste is reduced. For the ginkgo tree columns to appear more diverse, a single module type is rotated on a 9x9m grid throughout the building, which keeps installation and manufacturing costs to a minimum. These columns not only have integrated lighting, temperature, and acoustic controls, but they also gather rainwater from the roof and channel it into a green infrastructure irrigation system.

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