Publicly Accessible Buildings

Judging a building by its cover

Kalarch INC seek to inspire Tianjin to read through literary-themed library design

by Sian 05 December 2011
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    A new proposal has recently emerged; planning to radically redefine the appearance of the Tianjin Binhai Library, an existing four-storey building situated aside the Tianjin River, China. Devised by the minds of KDG group’s architectural team, the building is prospected to act as the pivotal feature on the waterfront, centralised amidst an outreaching area continuing on the extensive new development. At the beginning of the design process, KDG decided to seek inspiration inwards, whilst staying continually conscious of the eventual intended usage: “We looked for a dialogue between the façade and the content of the building, in this case, the books; this is why we were inspired by one of the greatest inventions of China, the process of paper-making.”

    The façade design was developed in a rather unusual, relaxed, manner; namely, the playful examination of a piece of paper. The architects folded the paper in a way that loosely corresponded to the base, and layout, of the existing building, whilst examining the new contours being created; this led to the eventual visualisation of the new structure’s skin. When constructed, extensions will be administered in a perforated metal, which will allow for different angles and views of the library. Holes have been rendered into the façade, with an expressed visual metaphor for the importance of reading between the lines; these breaks in the overall external aesthetics, will supposedly force everybody to ‘read between the lines’ of the 2,100 sq m library itself.

    The idea, behind renovations, was not only to redefine, to the benefit of the surrounding city, its extrinsic appearance, but also to have a positive influence on the environment inside the building. In order to achieve this approach, all angles of their frontispiece define two different types of spaces incorporated within: classrooms and study areas, positioned to provide users a sight-line to the sky; and lobbies and exhibition rooms, facing out onto the reflective surfaces of the river.

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