Library Design - The Future of Libraries In Cyberage

Library design in the eye of cyberage, requires space for  print books and e-books. Now with the virtual reality in full swing, demand for the printed word, and its place in libraries remain strong. The idea that everyone will read everything on screens has not proven to be true. The publishing industry knows this, and it is reflected in high-quality library designs.

The function of the library today is no longer a place conceived of books as sources of information, but a place for meaningful social and intellectual practices that develop around reading and research. 

In proposing a new library design for the city of Songdo, located to the west of Seoul in South Korea, aoe seeks a mix of informal and formal seating, flexible spaces, more outlets and internet capacity, and natural light. According to the award-winning, Beijing-based architecture and interior design studio, lead architect Larry Wen, “[The Library], plays an important role in the accumulation, sharing, and dissemination of knowledge. It is the home of interesting souls and the cultural repository of a city, with consideration to the social significance of civilization preservation. The comfortable reading spaces and multi-functional public space will reshape the value of the library as a place so that it serves as the cultural paradise for the citizens, and a cultural landmark where people like to visit.”

To that end, when designing for the future, perhaps the most important feature of all is not an architectural element, but the site itself.

The city is only a 15-minute drive away from Incheon Airport, its ideal geographical location makes it a better place for business and trades in Northeast Asia. Songdo is known for being a tech-based, intellectual, and eco-city. While the infrastructure of the city is growing mature, the development of more cultural buildings, such as this public library design, is expected to be a key indicator to carry out a cultural purpose into the city and hoped to draw closer connections with their living citizens.

A people-centric approach

The concept of this library starts from understanding the true nature of this library that it will not only be as a landmark in a city, but the importance of its publicity that connects with their local citizens and tourists. Therefore, two key spaces were carved out to create a Reading Hall (towards the south-facing natural view) and a Community Living Hall (towards north facing city) for the visitors to gather and possibly to host events or exhibitions. It is hoped that this new-generation library would bring great reading and learning experiences to the public, and being a local venue for events, gatherings, exhibitions to happen at the same time.

Lean and Green design strategy makes the library a truly self-sustaining architecture

The rounded form responds best to its surrounding context, it allows maximum access from different directions, minimised the impact on the neighboring kindergarten, and maximizing the open space for their citizens to gather. Moreover, based on accurate calculations by the designer, the building leans at an angle of 18.5° to the south to avoid direct sunlight in summer, to keep warm in winter, creating a bright, comfortable, and energy-saving space for reading and events. A concrete core wall with a cantilever-truss system is used as the structural system. According to calculations by engineers, the reading hall uses only 4 diagonal structural columns for diagonal bracing, so that visitors enjoy the most extensive space for reading and viewing. After careful consideration, charred wood cladding and glass curtain were selected as the main materials for the façade. The combination of these two materials not only brings contrasts to visual appearances. It also adapts to the local context climatically, the charred wood is expected to last for 80 to 100 years, with minimum maintenance needed.

The interior organizations of the library are main the Living Hall (North facing), which connects the outdoor public space, events, gathering, open lectures are expected to happen in this space, and the usage of the Auditorium, Community Classrooms are all accessible by the public even if the main library area is closed; and the General Reading Hall (South Facing), this cascading space is organized into multiple reading zones to encourage different learning activities for both individual and group users.

Sustainability considerations took place in the early concept stage as the building tilted to the south to avoid direct sunlight and reduce heat gain in summer and gain thermal energy in winter. This would create a comfortable reading space (South facing) and a bright community living hall (North facing) for events and exhibitions. Further sustainable and LEED design strategy helps the building with natural ventilation, low energy consumption, maximum recycled energy, and collections, it is becoming a truly self-sustaining architecture.

Post pandemic focus on wellbeing

Adopting a health-focused design strategy to fight with the virus and protect the occupant’s health
Increased fresh air rate to dilute indoor pollutant
Operable windows to bring more fresh air
Ultraviolet air treatment using UV lamps
Building material selection for better endurance and easy-cleaning
Encouraging hand washing with an improved design for sinks size


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