MVRDV Tianjin Binhai Library: an ocean of books


Ossip van Duivenbode,

Binhai, Tianjin, China,


Tianjin public library, designed by MVRDV and opened on October 1, 2017, has quickly become an icon on the web. The building is one of five cultural buildings in the Binhai district designed by world-renowned studios.

MVRDV Tianjin Binhai Library: an ocean of books

At the opening of the exhibition The Why Factory / Research, Education and Public Engagement / TU Delft + MVRDV” open at SpazioFMG until December 1 2017, and in a lecture at Politecnico di Milano, architect Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, talked about the new public library in Binhai, Tianjin, China which has quickly become an icon on the web.

An ocean of books, a sea of knowledge, an eye: many different images and metaphors come to mind in relation to the building designed by MVRDV with Chinese studio TUPDI. This evocative power is the project’s strong point, the source of its “fascination” for the collective imagination, projecting the iconic image of the library with its shelves upon shelves of books into the future. A result achieved by transforming the project’s limitations and challenges into its strong points: limited space and the need to include an auditorium. The library is in fact part of a masterplan including five cultural buildings designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects, HH Design and the above-mentioned MVRDV and by GMP, who also designed the masterplan and the glassed-in walkway connecting the buildings.

The auditorium, contained in a big sphere, becomes the central element in the volumetric composition, the original core giving rise to its form. Seen from the outside in the context of the building as a whole, through the windows and the transparent effect created by the sunbreaks on the façade, the sphere becomes the pupil of a big eye, the eye of knowledge. But when the complex is seen from the inside, there is a reference to the sea; like a stone cast into the water, the sphere creates ripples radiating out from the ceiling and walls, forming shelves displaying more than 1.2 million books, pathways for reaching the volumes and areas for public activities.
Among images of classic libraries like the one in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and the magical library of Hogwarts in J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, MVRDV’s library becomes an icon of the library of the future, a candidate for the world’s most beautiful library.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Design: MVRDV
Location: Binhai, Tianjin - China
Photos: Ossip van Duivenbode



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