The previous Chongqing Library, occupying 22,000 sm (236,800 sf), was set up in 1947 as one of five National Chinese Libraries. The new 45,500sm (490,500 sf) Chongqing Library is a stunning urban complex, which respects the long and unique culture of its predecessor while looking toward this energetic region’s future by projecting a modern image. The program exemplifies the transformation from a repository for books into a cultural center which includes an exhibition hall, computer learning facilities, ancient archives, and reading rooms. Features such as hotel rooms for visiting scholars, a public theater, a conferencing center, and restaurant also help redefine the library as a cultural destination. In this way, the library as an institution is inviting and welcoming, rather than intimidating and exclusive.
To convey the importance of this new city landmark, the design concept was predicated on the notion that learning, knowledge, and the exchange of ideas must be free, open, and accessible to all—a basic belief shared by the government and library leaders. To reinforce this notion, the building is sheathed almost entirely in glass, actively engaging the public and welcoming them within. The glass façade is inscribed with a text pattern that serves as a reminder of the profound life-long impact of learning on individuals and society. Selected quotes from scholars throughout history—from world leaders such as Chairman Mao and President Roosevelt to renowned philosophers including Socrates and Confucius—all reinforce the empowerment, knowledge, and freedom gained from learning.
The building’s form is based on both the Chinese architectural tradition of the courtyard and the interior multi-story atrium halls of traditional western libraries. The courtyard of the library deviates from tradition in that it is visibly open to public. Approaching the library, visitors see a sculptural reflecting pool that gently cascades into the central courtyard garden, one level below sidewalk level. The outdoor courtyard spaces provide a unique oasis within the bustling city, visible from the street level but sunken below-grade to achieve separation from the active urban streetscape and only accessible through the building’s secured reading rooms. The water, trees, and building are symbolic of Chongqing’s historically significant geographic location at the convergence of two of China’s most important rivers.
Boundaries between inside and outside are purposely blurred, allowing users to feel that they are in a place of nature and serenity. Interior reading rooms are envisioned as floating platforms amidst a forest of tree-like “Y”-shaped columns with curved tops. Readers can view from platform to platform, which provides a variety of smaller, intimate reading areas while allowing for visual interest. Interiors feature dark granite and marble accents, complemented by wood, stone and natural tones, juxtaposing cold and warm, new and old. Native stone is used both as an exterior and interior material, with patterns and colors reminiscent of the surrounding older structures of the city. The magnolia, an emblem found throughout Chongqing is interwoven in the carpeting. This overall contrast of materials is reflective of Chongqing, blending inside and out, warm and cold, traditional and modern.
The previous Chongqing Library, occupying 22,000 sm (236,800 sf), was set up in 1947 as one of five National Chinese Libraries. The new 45,500sm (490,500 sf) Chongqing Library is a stunning urban complex, which respects the long and unique culture of its predecessor while looking toward this energetic region’s future by projecting a modern image. The program exemplifies the transformation from a repository for books into a cultural center which includes an exhibition hall, computer learning...
- Year 2007
- Work finished in 2007
- Status Completed works
- Type Libraries