Shanghai is adding yet another futuristic building to its modern skyline. The Chinese megacity just broke ground on the Shanghai East Library, a new public library that will serve 4 million visitors a year and be much more than a repository for millions of books. Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, the massive 115,000-square-meter library will be a state-of-the-art, energy-conscious facility that feels like a shared “living room” with diverse programming.
In 2016, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects won an international competition to design the Shanghai East Library, and recently released new renderings to commemorate last week’s groundbreaking. The library will be located in Pudong next to Century Park, the city’s largest park, and will be surrounded by landscaped courtyards and gardens. The library comprises a monolithic trapezoidal volume that appears to float above the tree canopy as well as two lower pavilions that house a 1,000-seat performance venue, exhibition and events space, and a dedicated children’s library.
“The Shanghai Library client had a vision for the library – the future of the library should be a space for inspiration, learning, exchange and creation. Throughout the design process we have followed the same goals and beliefs in what we felt the library should be, that we wanted to create a building that focused on people and create spaces that are interconnected and inclusive. The aim is to create a building that feels like a second home for the citizens of Shanghai,” said Chris Hardie, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “Creating a building of this size is an enormous challenge. The complexity of program spaces required in a new modern library such as this goes far beyond being simply a container for physical books. As we always believe a new modern library should be, we envisage this will become a ‘living room’ for Shanghai’s citizens bringing them new learning and cultural experiences binding them closer to their own city and the world.”
The library is continuously clad in clear, insulated, and fritted glass organized in horizontal bands of varying transparency to evoke the image of striated rock. These alternating bands of transparent, semi-transparent, and insulated glass let in natural light while controlling solar gain. A grand central atrium forms the heart of the library and is flanked by three staggered reading rooms that open the building up to outdoor views. The modern library will offer both paper and digital reading and, as expected of Shanghai, will be highly integrated with technology. The building will serve as a resource center, knowledge exchange center, technology experience center, think tank, and international communication platform. The library is expected to open to the public by the end of 2020.
Images via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects