Nov 20, 2017

Three days ago, I wrote about the stunning new library in the Binhai Cultural District in Tianjin, Beijing. Its sleek, futuristic architecture and design have been leaving people’s jaws agape, bibliophile or not.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

However, entertainment news website Mashable just published a story on how this enormous library “has turned out to be a bit of a sham.” If you look closely, you’d see that the designers have also done a good job making the new library Instagram-perfect with fake books lining the undulated shelves.

nolisoli arts china library
Photo courtesy of Agence France-Press

Although there are real, tangible books on the shelves in the main atrium, they’re few and placed far between. Soon, the management will remove these books and transfer them to traditional bookshelves in the rooms.  This isn’t what the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV originally planned, though—the main atrium’s shelves are really supposed to hold books. But since the local municipality gave them a strict construction schedule, the fast-tracked development timetable forced them to drop the idea.

nolisoli arts china library

But the library’s deputy director blamed the design. In an article by the Agence France-Presse, Liu Xiufeng said that the authorities approved the plan which states that “the atrium would be used for circulation, sitting, reading, and discussion, but omitted a request to store books on shelves.”

So soon, the main atrium would be devoid of real books, just painted ones. That’s pretty disappointing. The original concept would’ve been innovative.

While we wait for the Binhai Library to redeem itself, there are other libraries in Asia worthy of the same amount of attention and limelight. Perhaps, even more.

Kanazawa Umimirai Library

nolisoli arts china library
Photos courtesy of Arch Daily

nolisoli arts china library

Found in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan, this public library is known for its concrete exterior with 6,000 holes, which are filled with translucent glass that allows light to diffuse in the 12-meter high reading room.

Taipei Public Library (Beitou branch)

nolisoli arts china library
Photo courtesy of Broke Tourist
nolisoli arts china library
Photo courtesy of Travel Taipei

This particular branch of Taiwan’s library is one of the country’s first green buildings. Opened in 2006, it has the right technology and design to curb electricity and water usage like the solar cells on the roof, wooden structure, deep balconies, vertical trellises, and sloped roof.

Nakajima Library

This library inside Akita International University in Japan is always open and not limited to students. It’s also called “Book Coliseum” because of its unique semi-circular design with an umbrella-shaped roof. The building is also a composite structure of Akita cedar and reinforced concrete.

Liyuan Library

nolisoli arts china library
Photos courtesy of Arch Daily

nolisoli arts china library

Found in the small village of Huairou, a two-hour drive away from the urban center in Beijing, this library is surrounded by a mountain and forest. It seems to be hiding in the landscape with its exterior screen adorned with sticks to conceal the glass facade. The reading space inside draws light naturally making a reading nook more comfortable.


Header image courtesy of Agence France-Press

Read more:
Seven heavens in Manila for every bibliophile
These places show us why UNESCO declared Baguio a “creative city”
Does the Southeast Asian film industry have more to offer than poverty porn?


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