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World’s Largest Climatized Reading Space Opens In Beijing

Snøhetta’s Beijing City Library has opened its doors to the public. This uniquely designed library will be a great source of knowledge.

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Archdaily
Beijing City Library Photo: Archdaily
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The highly anticipated Beijing City Library, designed by the renowned architecture firm Snøhetta, has officially opened its doors to the public. This unique space promises to be more than just a repository of books; it aims to transform into a vibrant cultural hub for learning, knowledge-sharing, and fostering a connection with nature.

Snøhetta's vision for the library transcends traditional library concepts. This space goes beyond simply housing books and aims to become a center for community engagement, offering dedicated areas for conferences, exhibitions, performances, and even the restoration of ancient books. The design embodies this philosophy, seamlessly integrating these diverse functions into the library's heart.

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Stepping into the library feels like entering a natural landscape. A central 16-meter-tall forum welcomes visitors, acting as the main artery for navigating the building. Surrounding this forum, a series of curved stepped terraces evoke the gentle slope of the nearby Tonghui River. These terraces provide informal spaces for relaxation, quiet conversations, or individual reading while maintaining a feeling of connection to the larger space. Tucked into these "hills" are smaller, more private reading areas, offering a sense of intimacy and focus.

The library's interior landscape is bathed in natural light filtering through a canopy-like roof. This unique roof draws inspiration from the iconic ginkgo trees, a symbol of Beijing's heritage. The intricate design features small openings between "petals" allowing sunlight to permeate the space, while creating a visual connection with the natural world outside. Real ginkgo trees are also present at the entrances, further reinforcing the harmonious blend of nature and architecture.

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The Beijing City Library prioritizes environmental responsibility. The project incorporates cutting-edge technologies to minimize its environmental footprint. Modular components and a rationalized structural grid were employed to reduce construction waste. The ginkgo tree columns, for instance, utilize a single module rotated to create variations, while integrating climate control technology within their structure. Additionally, the library boasts features like adjustable glazed openings based on sun exposure and a roof equipped with photovoltaic elements for renewable energy generation.

This project marks another feather in Snøhetta's cap, solidifying their position as a leader in innovative and sustainable cultural architecture. While the Beijing City Library welcomes its first visitors, the firm continues work on other exciting projects around the globe. Construction of the Shanghai Grand Opera House progresses at pace, with its opening slated for 2025. Additionally, Snøhetta expects to complete the Čoarvemátta cultural center in Norway and finalize the design for a new opera house in Saudi Arabia by the end of the year. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in the United States further adds to their diverse and impressive portfolio of cultural venues.

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