nARCHITECTS win Shanghai Library competition

Gail Taylor
Monday 22 Aug 2016

Shanghai Library’s East Hall has been envisioned as a ‘large house for all’ that takes its cues from China’s ancient libraries

New York-based nARCHITECTS has won first prize in the 2016 International Young Architects Design Competition for the 110,000 m sq Shanghai Library East Hall. The competition, which generated over 200 entries, was held by Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Government, aimed at enhancing Shanghai’s unique cultural influence and promoting qualities of public life there. 

The library proposal entitled ‘Library as Home’ envisions a library that feels like a large house for all, with a rich variety of environments that Shanghai’s citizens could appropriate as their own. The design is inspired by the intimate connections between people, media and nature in libraries of the ancient world.

As with the two distinct environments in China’s oldest library ‘Tian Yi Ge’, the scheme is characterized by open floors that connect library activities to nature and the city beyond, and compact floors that store a wide range of information formats and supporting functions. 

These open and compact floors have been organized as four pairs, thereby simplifying the public’s understanding of this large building as a home for all. Multiple environments for social interaction, reading, research, archiving, and public amenities are in this way distributed across these two distinct spatial types.

Four open levels provide distinct library environments, each connected to exterior gardens at every level, as well as to each other, resulting in a continuous public interior. Supported – both structurally and programmatically - by the compact levels below, nARCHITECTS envisaged these open floors to function as the city’s patio, living room, atelier and study: a Library as Home.

The cylindrical form of the building results in a compact urban form, and a legible presence at the scale of the city. By extending a large street level and sub-surface plinth below the park level, the park level footprint is minimised, liberating a large new area of public space.

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Gail Taylor

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