In the Indonesian city of Semarang, international architecture firm SHAU has completed Microlibrary Warak Kayu, an inspiring new public space that raises the bar for community design and sustainable architecture. Prefabricated with only FSC-certified timber, the new neighborhood icon is the fifth built project in the Microlibrary series, an initiative to encourage reading in low-income areas by creating “socially performative multifunctional community spaces with environmentally conscious designs and materials.” In addition to the exclusive use of sustainably grown and logged timbers, the project is the first library in Indonesia made entirely of FSC-certified wood. The Microlibrary Warak Kayu is also designed around passive solar principles so that no air conditioning is needed.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
streetview of a rectangular wood building on stilts

Built for approximately $75,000, the Microlibrary Warak Kayu was made possible through a collaborative community, private sector and government partnership. As a gift from the Arkatama Isvara Foundation to the City of Semarang, the Microlibrary is free and open for public use. Inspired by traditional Indonesian architecture, the architects modeled the building after the ‘rumah panggung’ (house on stilts) and elevated the structure to create various spatial configurations. The diamond-shaped brise soleil that wraps around the building evokes the scales of the local mythical creature ‘Warak Ngendog.’ That likeness gave rise to the building’s name, Warak Kayu, which means Wooden Warak. 

interior of a wooden library with bookshelves, tables and chairs

In addition to celebrating elements of local culture and architecture, the microlibrary serves as a living educational showcase for Indonesian engineered wood products and manufacturing capabilities. All the wooden materials were sustainably logged in Central Kalimantan and then shipped from Sampit over the Java Sea to the nearby Semarang factory, where PT Kayu Lapis Indonesia handled the prefabrication process. A variety of timbers were used, from the tropical hardwood Bangkirai for the main structural frame to different Meranti-based plywoods for the decking and the brise soleil. 

Related: Microlibrary built with 2,000 recycled ice cream buckets tackles illiteracy in Indonesia

an elevated wooden library lit up in the evening

Although temperatures in Semarang can rise into the 90s, the Microlibrary Warak Kayu stays naturally cool thanks to the implementation of passive climate principles. The brise soleil and deep roof overhangs protect the interior from unwanted solar gain, while openings promote cross ventilation to cool the building. The natural breezes also help protect books from moisture damage caused by humidity. 


Images by KIE