Design of the Snøhetta sub-center library for Beijing


After winning an international competition for the design of the Beijing Sub-Center Library in 2018, Norwegian architecture studio Snøhetta unveiled its glass structure that will stand 16 meters high by the end of 2022. Snøhetta is no stranger to constructing buildings that embrace natural surroundings which include the use of massive glass panels such as the lush open office space in Austria as well as the ‘The 7th Room’ treehouse in Sweden.

To fully immerse the library in the landscape, the team decided to fashion the structure with a multitude of tree-shaped columns resembling that of a ginkgo forest – one of China’s native tree species that dates back 290 million years. With a number of pillars supporting the entire roof, the columns subtly flourish above in spherical shapes that mimic that of a ginkgo leaf canopy while serving as mechanisms to support climate, lighting, acoustic performance and rainwater drainage from the library.

Upon entering the building, guests are greeted by a large open space with level formations similar to rice terraces with specific areas for study areas, reading spaces, reading rooms and own collection of library books. Snøhetta said the layers of tree-shaped steps and poles invite visitors to relax and read as if they were under an actual tree. All are housed in floor-to-ceiling glass walls allowing the library to blend in with its surroundings.

It will be the country’s first freestanding glass exterior project when completed in the final months of the year.

Elsewhere in the design, Hello Wood Studio built an observation cabin in the hills of Zala County, Hungary.

About Octavia A. Dorr

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