The New Architecture of Libraries and Bookshops, Pt. 1

Over the last few years there seems to have been a resurgence in new libraries and bookshops all over the world (and for some unknown reason more abundantly in China).

Is this merely a case of the architecture of spectacle turning it’s eye to yet another institution? Previously architects have thoroughly expressed their egos in a range of areas, including commercial buildings – think The CCTV Headquarters (Beijing), LLoyds of London, or 30 St Mary Axe (better known as The Gherkin, of course). Or museums – The Guggenhiem Museums (New York and Bilbao), The Jewish Museum (Berlin), Pompidou Centre (Paris). Or arts centres – the Sydney Opera House, Sage Gateshead, City of Arts and Sciences (Valencia) and the Heydar Aliyev Center (Baku, Azerbaijan).

That may well be the case, and if they are in need of another area to develop I would suggest they design a rash of new cinemas – we haven’t really had many exciting cinema buildings since the 30’s, as far as I know!

Another reason could be that it is a reaction to the sterile, digital world of the e-book. We are analogue creatures, we like real physical things, we fall in love with books, but could we really fall in love with an e-reader? I doubt it.

The sensation of holding a book, leafing through the pages, the texture and smell (particularly of old books), are just a few of the aspects of reading a book that a series of zeros and ones can never come close to.

Whatever the reason, there are some amazing temples to the written word appearing and I thought it would be a good idea to stop writing and let the images of these places speak for themselves.

By the way, all these images are from articles on the excellent ‘designboom‘ website. If you would like more information on either the buildings or the photographers then search for the buildings on their website or click on the title and it should take you to the article.

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore, China

The M.I. Bookstore, Harbin, China

Oodi Central Library, Helsinki

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