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largest air-conditioned reading space in the world

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The Beijing City Library, located in Beijing (China), is considered the largest air-conditioned reading space in the world. The project, designed by architect Snøhetta, covers an area of ​​75 thousand m² and features innovative architecture that simulates an artificial forest landscape.

According to the New Atlas, the building's external structure is made up of glass, with dozens of columns shaped like ginkgo trees, while the roof has a forest-like roof, allowing natural light to enter through skylights. Inside, the layout follows the course of a nearby river, with a winding path called “Vale”, which serves as the main circulation route.

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Image: Yumeng Zhu

Air-conditioned reading space in the middle of Beijing

Below, check out more details about the Beijing City Library:

  • The terraced hills rising from the Valley are designed to create sculpted internal form that serves as floor, seating and shelf;
  • This central open area provides visitors with the opportunity to relax, chat or read in silence whilst remaining connected to the larger space;
  • Semi-private reading areas and conference rooms are incorporated into these hills, while bookshelves and tables are arranged on flat surfaces;
  • Furthermore, the library has one of the largest automated book storage and retrieval systems in the world.
Image: Yumeng Zhu

The terraced hills rising from the Valley are designed to create sculpted interior relief that serves as flooring, seating and shelving – an informal zone with opportunities to relax, chat or read quietly, all while remaining connected to the larger space. Semi-private reading areas and conference rooms are built into the hills, while bookshelves and tables are arranged in long, flat areas at the top. This open central area is fully accessible and incorporates one of the largest automated book storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) in the world.

Snøhetta, architect responsible for the project

Sustainability

Beijing City Library has significant sustainable features. The construction used modular components and simple structure to reduce waste. The tree-shaped columns house integrated technology for climate control, lighting and internal acoustics.

Furthermore, the building collects rainwater for reuse in irrigation and has integrated photovoltaic panels, which reduces its dependence on the electricity grid.

Image: Yumeng Zhu

This library is part of a series of notable buildings in China. Other examples include Tianjin's Binhai Library designed by MVRDV, Haikou's Cloudscape designed by MAD, and Condition_Lab's award-winning Pingtan Children's Library.



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