See the World’s 9 Most Futuristic Libraries
The library was once a silent sanctuary of books but today—thanks to new technology and trailblazing design—its contemporary interpretations are far from quiet. Step inside the world’s most modern libraries and you’ll find dynamic tools and spaces, from podcast recording studios to game development labs. Robotic book-retrieval systems have made way for communal spaces punctuated with art, turning the library into a social sphere. According to an analysis of U.S. library attendance by Pew Research Center, millennials use libraries more than any other generation. As a result, services and spaces have evolved to appeal to digitally native generations. One tradition has been remained, though: The art of making the library an architectural centerpiece. In the spirit of buildings like Dublin’s Trinity College Library, today’s institutions are designed to inspire. While historians consider the 17th century to be “the golden age of libraries,” these contemporary projects suggest a biblio-renaissance is well underway.
Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Finland
For a cultural institution defined by silence, in a country known for its love of the same, the new Helsinki Central Library, which opens this week, has been the talk of the town. The 185,774-square-foot, Finnish spruce timber–clad library, called Oodi ("ode" in Finnish) is the work of local architect firm ALA, led by Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, and Samuli Woolston. (They were chosen following an anonymous competition.) Some of Oodi's famous neighbors include Finlandia Hall, Alvaar Aalto's magnificent iceberg-inspired Concert Hall, and Finnish Parliament. Finland is known for its vibrant library culture, but ALA's design upset any traditional library model, most noticeably by relegating reading space and bookshelves to the top floor, which sits under an undulating roof (it also resembles an iceberg, creating a visual rhyme with Finlandia Hall). The library's other two levels seem to meld into each other through a series of curving zero-threshold spaces that start in the outdoor plaza. They are spaces designed just for the public to hang out in in the heart of the city, "a civic living room." That's a dominant theme of the library's design, following a mandate to promote democratic equality (other themes—active citizenship and freedom of expression—are answered by Oodi's proximity also to the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper and the Parliament. The Living Room area also includes a theatre, a "Makers Space" equipped with 3-D printers, a children's play area, and a recording studio. (At one point the architects considered a sauna as well.) Art by Finnish artists Jani Ruscica and Otto Karvonen was commissioned for the building. With only a third of the library's space devoted to books (a relatively meager 100,000 volumes are on the shelves at a given time), Oodi is allowed to embrace emerging technology—including book-sorting robots—to create new opportunities to access books. The library's 3.4 million other volumes are available, for example, through a much larger, cutting-edge distribution system. It's an exciting, new space, miles away from the old idea of libraries as dark, immovable, and quiet temples. Antti Nousjoki, one of ALA's three partners, says, “Oodi is a large public forum of thought and action operating under the library organization, but with a range of reach and functionality well beyond a traditional book depository.”
Calgary Central Library, Calgary, Alberta
As one of Canada’s most anticipated projects of 2018, Calgary’s new Central Library opened on November 1 as a design-forward response to the city’s fast-growing library system. The $245-million project, designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and Canadian firm Dialog, pulls inspiration from Alberta’s arch-shaped Chinook cloud formations. The façade’s interlocking hexagonal pattern speaks to the library's focus on the collective community, as does the fact that all sides of the building function as its front. Inside, sustainably sourced western red cedar interiors juxtapose a sleek digital learning lab with gaming and podcasting programs. “By investing in their Central Library to create an open platform for making, not just taking, the city has opened a new door into a future that banks on a culture of creativity and innovation,” says Snøhetta’s founding partner Craig Dykers. Works by indigenous artists are prominently featured as part of a $500,000 Indigenous Placemaking project, marking a step forward in the library’s goal of inclusivity.
Qatar National Library, Doha, Qatar
The wow factor of the Qatar National Library begins at its entrance, which immediately brings visitors to the center of a 485,000-square-foot space designed by Dutch firm OMA. With over a million books from the Doha’s National Library, Public Library, and University Library, the library’s collections are best perused via the “people mover” (a cross between an elevator and an escalator). Since opening in 2017, the library’s programming has focused on bridging the past and present through concerts and an exposition of historical archives in six-meter-deep glass vitrines, symbolizing an excavation site. “From the main library in the plaza, you can look down and see all the books from the Heritage Collection, “ says Vincent Kersten, Senior Architect at OMA. “It’s not only a storage but also an exhibition.”
Austin Central Library, Austin, Texas
Heralded as the most day-lit library in the U.S., the $120 million Austin Central Library has attracted attention for its hyper-flexible design and sustainable resource use. The joint venture between architectural firms Lake Flato and Shepley Bulfinch was completed in 2017 and responds to Texas’s droughts with a 373,000-gallon rainwater system created from a concrete vault that existed on the site. “It represented a challenge and an opportunity. Removal would have been expensive but its location gave us the chance to capture all the rainwater from the roof of the library,” says Sidney R. Bowen, managing principal at Shepley Bulfinch. In addition to its light-filled atrium, the library embraces the outdoor life of Austinites with two reading porches and a roof terrace shaded by solar panels.
James B. Hunt Jr. Library, Raleigh, North Carolina
The canary-yellow stairway isn't the only thing that's pleasantly "disruptive" about the North Carolina State University's revamped Hunt Library. The Snøhetta-designed building, completed in 2013, eschews traditionally introverted spaces in favor of surprising design features and stimulating technology zones. Interactive digital surfaces and HD video display screens are scattered throughout the building, as are creative spaces that include a video game development lab. With North Carolina's state energy requirements being stricter than LEED requirements, several sustainability measures were implemented. Solar panels line a high-albedo roof built to control the interior climate. And thanks to a sleek automated book-retrieval system, the library was able to cut its space in half—delivering high-design and innovation in less than 220,000 square feet.
Tianjin Binhai Library, Tianjin, China
It’s no surprise that images of the Tianjin Binhai Library went viral when the building opened its doors in 2017 to receive over 10,000 visitors per day. The futuristic library, designed by Dutch firm Mvrdv, features an atrium with floor-to-ceiling shelving that appears to house an endless number of books. There’s a catch though: Not all of the books are real. Inaccessible shelves have been filled with aluminum plates digitally printed with book images. Regardless of this controversial detail, the building’s social media popularity has turned the project into Tianjin’s number one tourist attraction and a testament to the important role of design in library attendance.
The Arabian Library, Scottsdale, Arizona
Inspired by Arizona’s slot canyons, the Arabian Library's distinctive pre-rusted steel façade makes it one of Scottsdale's most expressive buildings. The interiors were designed to feel more like a retail-store-meets-living-room than a traditional library, encouraging younger generations to check out a book using the self-serve kiosks or read in one of the library’s many Herman Miller chairs. Despite all the activity, Phoenix-based architecture firm richärd+bauer wanted to ensure the library offered a calm escape and pay homage to the environment. Thanks to its use of sustainable materials, including recycled cotton, for insulation and recycled perforated MDF board for the ceilings, the library received the 2008 IIDA/Metropolis Smart Environments Award. More than a decade later, its parking lot—filled with charging stations for alternative fuel vehicles—is rarely empty.
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, Chicago
At first glance, the University of Chicago’s Mansueto Library almost appears to be out of a sci-fi film. Its 3.5 million books are stored underground in a repository tended by robotic cranes, while a glass dome covers an expansive reading room upstairs. “By putting the book storage below, we were free to create an open and luminous space,” says Chicago-based architect Helmut Jahn about the project, which was completed in 2011. Upper sections of the dome’s glass panes feature patterning that blocks heat and UV rays, ensuring that the atmosphere is comfortable for up to 180 students at a time. Though the University of Chicago doesn’t have an architecture program, notes Jahn, the library is a perfect match for the Physics and Science departments’ devotion to innovation.
Philological Library, Berlin
Nicknamed the ‘Berlin brain’ for its cranial form, the Philological Library on the campus of the Free University of Berlin has been applauded for its eco-intelligent structure since opening in 2005. British architect Norman Foster spent years researching and experimenting with how buildings can employ active and passive technologies to increase energy efficiency. As a result, the building’s naturally ventilated, bubble-like enclosure consists of three parts. The external shell features aluminum and glazed panels that regulate the internal temperature. The supporting steel frame, formed from radial geometries, separates the inner and outer layers. And lastly, a translucent inner membrane filters daylight, allowing just the right amount of ambient light to shine through and create a perfect studying environment.
SOURCE: Architectual Digest, Julia Eskins and Karen Burshtein | December 5, 2018 | View Original Article