After six months and a two-stage process, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has won an international competition to design the Shanghai Library, a monumental building that will abut the sprawling Century Park in the city’s Pudong District. The 110,000-square-meter library will hover above the treeline in the park, providing a focal point amidst the greenery in a city of 25 million—the most populated in the world. Below the main library structure, two pavilions make up a 1,200-seat event arena and a children’s library, both of which segue into landscaped courtyards and gardens.
"We didn’t want to create an atrium that you see as soon as you enter and immediately understand spatially. It’s meant to encourage exploration and serendipity." - Chris Hardie
"The building is deliberately monolithic to stand as an abstract object floating above the tree canopy—and refers to the notion of a central rock in a city-scale Chinese garden," says Schmidt Hammer Lassen partner Chris Hardie. Clad in horizontal bands of clear, insulated, and fritted glass angled to minimize solar glare, the building provides sweeping views for nearly 270 degrees. Inside, a perimeter ring connects the library to its surrounding context of the park and city, and a grand central atrium comprised of staggered reading rooms connects space across different floors. As Hardie explains, "This creates a series of overlapping spaces that only reveal themselves as you pass up through the building—encouraging visitors to explore. We didn’t want to create an atrium that you see as soon as you enter and immediately understand spatially. It’s meant to encourage exploration and serendipity."
Expected to open in 2020, the Shanghai Library joins the Science & Technology Museum and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center to form three institutions on Century Avenue, which runs between Century Park and Shanghai’s iconic business district. Says Hardie, "We are excited about the project as a whole and how we can develop it further alongside our client team in the coming months."
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