Libraries have the ability to symbolize the character of a nation. As public buildings and community centers, they reflect how much we value learning, cultural exchange and social life. From small free libraries to monumental institutions, these structures encourage human knowledge and imagination. There is a balance between media information and written records after almost everything has been digitized. The libraries enable diverse programs, from book stacks and research laboratories to auditoriums and bespoke lecture halls. Adapting to the needs of readers and those of the modern world is the key to popularity here. This built-in flexibility extends the life of the library and creates space for future generations. Over time, we identify with these places and they begin to shape our cultural heritage.
To better illustrate this idea, we have put eight unique national libraries from around the world together in a picture gallery. All of the library buildings shown here are spectacular from an architectural point of view. Built to arouse curiosity, they are home to rich history and further cultivate national cultural heritage. As gears to promote intercultural communication and better understanding between representatives of different nations, libraries carry high national values while at the same time belonging to the general public. They blur spatial boundaries, promote creative projects and new ideas and show how they anticipate future development trends in our dynamic world. These temples of knowledge are characterized by active and long-term collecting of valuable books and manuscripts, their exchange and storage. There you will not only find large reading rooms, but also comfortable rooms for relaxation and exchanging ideas. Together they show how we can build knowledge and define new places for exploring our shared values.
National Taitung University Library and Information Center, Taiwan
Taiwan’s National Library and Information Center in Taitung is located between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Erected as a landform architecture, the project aimed to connect school and lake areas through an abstract mountain volume with residential areas. And that has obviously been achieved through this spectacular building.
The National Technical Library in Prague, Czech Republic
Inspired by the building context and the historical city map of Prague, the National Technical Library in the Czech capital was designed to combine monumentality and modernity in one and to express them. A nearby park and social spaces balance the building. The technology infrastructure and numerous reading rooms offer the best opportunities for many people to come together and learn.
National Library in Cairo, Egypt
The proposal by the architects from Buro AD for the Cairo National Library hit the bull’s eye, because the imposing library building is located exactly where numerous people from different social classes can come together: tourist routes, the old route of the Nile and the metro line from Cairo cross here. With a connection to Tahrir Square, the project reveals Egyptian history and at the same time promotes the exchange between different user groups.
Photo 5: The National Library in Cairo looks attractive during the day and at night
Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, designed by Snøhetta
Snøhetta’s design for the Bibliotheca Alexandrina brought the Norwegian company into the international spotlight. Adjacent to the city’s historic city center and the old port, the library also includes other cultural and educational locations such as a museum, school and planetarium. Formally, a tilted, circular volume is formed, while a pedestrian bridge, a reflective pool and an open space spatially connect the building with its nearby surroundings.
National Library of China by KSP Jürgen Engel Architects, Beijing, China
The project of the National Library of China was planned to complement the old building, which houses over 12 million books and a new digital library, as well as the “Si Ku Quan Shu” manuscript collection. The digital library is housed in a building that appears to float above the reading rooms and reference zones. In the core of the library is a glazed vault that contains the manuscripts.
National Public Information Library designed by JJ Pan and partners, Taichung, Taiwan
The National Library of Taiwan was designed and built in a dynamic form referring to 18th century irrigation canals. The design took into account the changed function of libraries and the impact of digital media. The building has rooms that flow into one another, a gorgeous design and limitless possibilities for the realization of diverse cultural events.
King Fahad National Library in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The King Fahad National Library in Riyadh is an ingenious design by Gerber Architects. The unique building rises in the new center of Riyadh, connecting King Fahad Street and Olaya Street, the two main arteries of the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A facade of the library building looks like textile awnings in rhombuses. These are supported by a cable structure and allow a lot of daylight to flood into the interior. On the other hand, readers and visitors to the library can admire wonderful views of the city from within.
National Library of Israel, designed by Herzog & de Meuron
The design by Herzog & de Meuron for the National Library of Israel includes book storage rooms, a visitor center, open work rooms and a central reading room. The renovation of the library provides for topographical planning and sculptural stone work, which lead to an impressive end result.
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