Gallery: BIG Architects Unveil Massive Mobius Strip Library for Kazakhs...


BIG Architects have unveiled an incredible new library that will serve as a multifunctional cultural center for Astana, Kazakhstan. Named Nursultan Nazarbayev after the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the new library will encompass not just books, but space and time as well. The design comprises 4 archetypes – the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt – which all merge into the form of a Möbius strip. In designing the structure BIG also used high-tech modeling to calculate the thermal exposure of the building envelope and maximize shading.

The building itself is a complicated juxtaposition of different ideas and concepts. It forms a spiraling circle around a strong vertical core that allows visitors to the library to move between floors. The museum’s curves form a möbius strip, so the interior becomes the exterior and back again; likewise the walls become the roof and the roof transforms back into the walls. The interior corridors are naturally daylit through geometric openings in the exterior shell, creating beautifully lit spaces perfect for reading.

To minimize cooling loads on the library, BIG Architects employed some advanced computer modeling to calculate the thermal exposure on the building envelope. Because of the warping and twisting of the exterior, some parts of the building receive more light than others. By taking that information, BIG was able to create a geometric pattern or “ecological ornament” to regulate the solar impact.

The new library will be located in the center of Astana with views of the entire city. All segments of the community will be served by the library, which is open for meetings, cultural events, and historical record keeping in hopes of further developing the country. Outside a park showcases the native plants and geology of the country. Visitors will be able to experience various trees, plants, rocks and minerals taken from all over the country, so they can see how diverse their native landscape is.

+ BIG Architects


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  1. purplepoet August 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

    What a wonderful new building! The Mobius Band concept is fascinating to me, so much so, that when i retired i began using the concept i sculptures in wood. i have done over 900 of them now!

  2. NMH January 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Looks amazing ! Has construction started yet?

  3. aminazinkaKZ September 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    actually, I can say that this project has been already begun…….and the project of normanfoster2 also)

  4. P.S. August 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I think it no more than the futuristic student’s project which never probably will be embodied in a reality

    The hand of the Russian designer is felt :)

  5. cyngrace August 27, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Is this amazing and glorioua building also disability friendly/accessable in it’s design??

  6. patrickmc August 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Interesting, but I’m curious about it’s context within the city and disappointed by the multi-level parking garage below it.

    One of the tough pieces about this starchitecture is that by being designed with no relationship with the surrounding urban landscape and with the desire for good sightlines to look at the building, they’re all to often isolated and thus not very walkable or accessible by transit, resulting in the need for lots of parking (reducing their “green”ness).

    I hope that Inhabitat, dwell, and others will cover not just the green features/design of this and other buildings but also how they fit within the broader urban context and how users will arrive at them.

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