A new public library in Tianjin, China
November 4, 2017 1:30 PM   Subscribe

A short video clip. Dezeen: "The five-storey-high space is framed by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, which are staggered at different levels to form the shape of an eye socket, while a spherical mirrored auditorium at the centre forms the pupil." Curbed: "Measuring about 363,000 square feet, the Tianjin Binhai Library comprises what is essentially a glass box sheathed in horizontal louvers that correspond to the “continuous” floor-to-ceiling system of bookcases that appears to “cascade” down the interior walls." Inhabitat: (Winy Mass, co-founder of the designers MVRDV) "The bookshelves are great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors. The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing."

A slight cheat: "The tight construction schedule forced one essential part of the concept to be dropped: access to the upper bookshelves from rooms placed behind the atrium. This change was made locally and against MVRDV’s advice and rendered access to the upper shelves currently impossible. The full vision for the library may be realised in the future, but until then perforated aluminium plates printed to represent books on the upper shelves. Cleaning is done via ropes and movable scaffolding."
posted by Wordshore (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
The sound. All the sound.
posted by weewooweewoo at 1:35 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]


What is the purpose of a library where you can't access the shelves? Potëmkin books? I guess you just have a dramatic, truly empty space.
posted by njohnson23 at 1:43 PM on November 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, is there a way to get to the upper shelves? It looks amazing, but also seems to buy into the always-present-but-now-more-than-ever idea that books are for ornament, not even browsing.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:54 PM on November 4 [1 favorite]


On some pics, you can see that the upper unreachable shelves only have pictures of books.

This is the sort of architecture that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:15 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]


From the Dezeen link; Fast-tracking the process caused a few design headaches. The upper shelves directly above the atrium are currently unreachable, after planned access rooms were dropped – a decision MVRDV said was taken by the local team against their advice.

From the post itself; A slight cheat: "The tight construction schedule forced one essential part of the concept to be dropped: access to the upper bookshelves from rooms placed behind the atrium. This change was made locally and against MVRDV’s advice and rendered access to the upper shelves currently impossible. The full vision for the library may be realised in the future, but until then perforated aluminium plates printed to represent books on the upper shelves. Cleaning is done via ropes and movable scaffolding."

posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:20 PM on November 4


"access to the upper shelves currently impossible"

This was driving me crazy watching the video.

I suppose it could be considered an analogy to the Great Firewall..
posted by joeyh at 2:22 PM on November 4 [1 favorite]


The tight construction schedule forced one essential part of the concept to be dropped: access to the upper bookshelves

oops. oh well...you can't win them all.
posted by Hicksu at 2:25 PM on November 4


This certainly isn't a 'human' space. This is an architect-massaging-his-ego space.

Readers want access to the books. Readers want a place to curl up and read the books. Readers don't want the giant hairy eyeball of the library watching, always watching.

My vote is no.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:08 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]


The sound. All the sound.
posted by weewooweewoo

posted by Wordshore at 3:17 PM on November 4


The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing and lying down on the floor so you can roll horizontally in order to reach books on the bottom shelf.

FTFY.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on November 4 [4 favorites]


I'm imagining book robots that would whisk along those terraces, retrieving whatever book you wanted from the far reaches (cf. tape library robots). As it stands, it's form over function, with some curiously totalitarian echoes.
posted by Standard Orange at 4:10 PM on November 4


It's pretty, but I hope there's actual elevators hidden somewhere behind those bookshelves or something.
posted by inconstant at 4:28 PM on November 4


It's kinda dreamlike, I can imagine the sensation of climbing to reach a book, leaning further and further back.
posted by lucidium at 4:45 PM on November 4


What books are allowed in a Chinese library? Does every book need to be approved by the same group that censors Chinese access to the internet? Something about seeing such an effort put into making an impressive library in a society where information is heavily censored feels weird.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 6:35 PM on November 4


It's the eye of the all-seeing government, watching what books you pick.

Choose carefully.
posted by cuscutis at 7:02 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]


The books you can't get to, the all seeing eye... seems a little bit TOO on the nose China.
posted by youthenrage at 7:46 PM on November 4 [1 favorite]


People cannot be trusted to spend money.
posted by amanda at 6:40 AM on November 5


On top of all the other criticisms, it looks like the vast majority of shelves are inaccessible for people with mobility issues or who use a wheelchair, something that completely contravenes the intended purpose of a library (equal access to information for all).

Plus it will be a nightmare for library employees to re-shelve books because they won't be able to use a book cart and they'll have to carry all the books in their arms.

I honestly don't think they could have designed a worse library if they tried.
posted by mr. manager at 8:31 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


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