The New Architecture of Libraries and Bookshops, Pt. 2

Libraries and bookstores are, or should be, temples to books and the art of reading and in that role they should be places that people want to visit. As mentioned in part 1 of this article, there have been a surprising number of fantastic looking bookstores and libraries that have sprung up over the last few years which I would imagine have become architectural and retail destinations.

I explored a number of reasons for this return to the book in the previous article (The New Architecture of Libraries and Bookshops, Pt. 1), so I will move straight on to the buildings themselves. Most of these images come from the ever-interesting design website ‘designboom‘ and if you click on the titles you’ll link through to the original articles if you’d like to find out more information.

Zhongshuge Bookstore, Yintai Center, Chengdu, China

Wuguan Books, Dayi Warehouse Cluster, Kaohsiung City, China

Library of Birmingham, England

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