One of the most important buildings in the city is the library, especially if it is a modern construction like the one we show you this week.
The refuge of the popular heritage is called a library. For this reason, since the beginning of civilizations, these buildings have had a special place within different cultures. It is not surprising that many of these knowledge centers are Assets of Cultural Interest, such as the Royal Library of the El Escorial Monastery, built in 1563 in Madrid; the Raza library of Rampur of India of 1774; or the oldest library in the world, that of the Monastery of Saint Catherine of Mount Sinai, built in Egypt between 548-565.
Of course, these legendary libraries have given way to modern buildings compatible with today’s needs. Buildings that now not only house the culture of the past, but also glimpse the future and allow interaction with it.
However, in this article we are not going to advise reading books, we are going to visit the impressive and modern libraries that have been built since the beginning of this century, buildings that undoubtedly deserve our full attention.
TEA Tenerife art space
The first library that we are going to visit is in our country, more specifically, in our paradise: The Canary Islands. Santa Cruz de Tenerife can boast since 2008 an exquisite intervention by the Herzog & de Meuron architecture studio, a wonderful cultural space that interprets the educational and spatial needs of the Canary Islands Co-Capital.
The TEA (Tenerife Espacio de las Artes) is not only a library, it is a meeting place for art and knowledge. Its powerful reinforced concrete wall, with unique openings, protects a studied interior path that elegantly overcomes the slope on which it is located. A benchmark space for contemporary architecture on the islands.
Taipei Public Library
The second stop is located in the greenest country known: Taiwan. The Taipei Public Library in the Beitou District covers nearly 35,000 square meters. It was designed by the Bio-Architecture Formosama studio and was inaugurated in 2006.
This building is an example of sustainable architecture, not only because its structure is made of wood, but also because of its design, which includes a careful orientation and position of its elements to defend itself as much as possible from inclement weather. In addition, its electricity supply is largely covered by its solar panels.
In Norway, the architects of Helen & Hard created 2011 a wonderful building for the municipality of Vennesla. It is a powerful aesthetic and cultural contribution that citizens enjoy through the use of their library, cafeteria, or study rooms.
The building revolves around 27 laminated wood ribs that serve as a structural element and as shelves. In addition, they change their shape and dimensions to make the space vibrant and dynamic. This wood serves, in addition to being a structure and acoustic insulator, as a shell for air conditioning, lighting installations, etc.
In England we find another construction that forces us to take off our hats. It is the largest public library in Europe, with 35,000 square meters. This building was built in 2013 and its design is the work of the Dutch studio Mecanoo, which has to its credit an impressive list of buildings of this type.
As the creators point out on their website, «the building is an ode to the circle: an archetypal form that embodies universality, infinity, unity and timelessness». The impressive facade of metal rings hides a huge circular patio, which distributes the different rooms inside through roundabouts. In addition, the upper overhang allows you to enjoy the views of a unique garden.
The same year, the Sejong National Library was inaugurated in South Korea. With an area of 21,000 square meters, this library is executed based on a project by Samoo Architects. The conception of the property is based on the form, the space and the emotional experience and, from my point of view, they have more than succeeded.
Its shape does not leave anyone undaunted. A huge smile framed in a robust border allows the inclusion of formidable windows. Inside, the library is research oriented, but open to local citizens, overlooking the lake and with entrance from a large plaza.
Tianjin Binhai Library
Of course, China could not be missing from the literary equation. The Asian giant inaugurated in 2017 the Tianjin Binhai library, designed by the Dutch firm MVRDV. This particular construction is wrapped between slats to take advantage of sunlight, while protecting itself from its heating effect.
In just three years, the library went from a sketch on paper to opening its 33,700-square-meter doors to the public. I really don’t know if anyone can feel comfortable reading inside, because the curved, white shapes of the entire interior focus their gaze on the center, where a huge eye reflects their entire surroundings. This library is well worth a detailed social study.
The same architecture firm is behind another lavish library, Lavish Book Mountain and Library Quarter, built in 2012. This building is shaped like a glass pyramid and hides inside a mountain of bookshelves, about 480 meters high according to the architects, which they were made with the recycling of flowerpots.
The building is located in a privileged place: the town square. A town that reaches 10% illiteracy, and that intends to reduce this percentage to the minimum possible thanks to this striking construction that also houses a chess club, meeting rooms, an auditorium, offices and commercial premises.
Library of Alexandria
Egypt could not be left behind. The cradle of one of the most powerful civilizations in history rebuilt its old library with 200 million euros. Its inauguration in 2002 appeared in many media of the Orb.
Snøhetta’s architects were not shy about designing an 80,000-square-meter building that, with a spherical shape (160 meters in diameter), rises up to 32 meters on one side, revealing a powerful wall engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The complex has 11 floors, four of them underground, an open plaza and a reflecting pool that surrounds part of the building. In addition, it also has a walkway that connects the city with the nearby University of Alexandria.
Calgary Central Library
We change continent and year, but not designers. Snøhetta created in 2018 for Calgary, Canada, a formidable example of avant-garde architecture. A brand new library that is inspired by the cloud formations of the province.
The façade, with a semi-curved shape, has hexagonal geometric shapes, which allow the inclusion of windows of different shapes and dimensions with triple glazing, and opaque areas that are executed with aluminum panels. The building is accessed through an open area, under an impressive wooden arch, referring to the very common Chinook cloud arches in the region. Long live Calgary!!
Sao Paulo Library
We fly to Sao Paulo to discover the majestic and unique São Paulo Library, located in the Parque da Juventude. It was built in 2010, following a script by the Aflalo and Gasperini Architects studio.
The building has a murky past, since it was a prison, but an exquisite reform enables it for its current use. In total 4,500 square meters for culture and distributed over two floors that reach 12 meters.
About twenty pillars and ten huge beams (every 10 meters) allow great possibilities of interior space. In addition, the complex has terraces on the ground floor, a cafeteria, living rooms and spaces for cultural interactions. On the upper floor, east and west facing terraces are covered by laminated beams to enjoy the wonderful weather of the region.
Seattle Central Library
We finished this intrepid trip in the United States, specifically in Seattle, where the well-known Rem Koolhaas created in 2004 the most impressive library that our eyes have seen. A striking steel and glass building that reaches eleven stories, and is located on a hill from which you can glimpse Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle.
The exterior of the building is faceted with frames that allow maximum use of light. Inside it is subdivided into platforms: five for different library programs, and four in intermediate planes that make up an inspiring and elegant construction, as well as being very photogenic. Makes you want to visit one of these centers of knowledge… Right?