The Tianjin Binhai Library recently opened to the public located at the Binhai Cultural Center. The library is sprawled across an enormous 33,700 square meters (362,744 square feet) space and houses some 1.2 million books. The Tianjin library has five floors and encourages patrons to sit anywhere they like to enjoy the facility. The library seems to be more of a shrine to books than an actual study space with shelves towering to the very heights of the building. It’s certainly more form than function. Critics have raised questions about access for handicapped patrons and the exclusion of government-censored books.
Dutch architectural firm MVRDV conducted the planning and building of the structure and took inspiration from the design of the human eye. The shelves themselves take on a unique topographical structure that invites patrons to climb over and explore. The center piece of the library features an enormous spherical pupil-like auditorium.
“The Eye is the centre of the library,” explains MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. “It hollows out the building and creates, out of bookshelves, an environment to sit, to read, to hang out, to climb and to access, to create an organic social space.”
The scope of the building not only sparks the mind, it boggles the imagination. One might wonder – how do patron reach the books at the top of the structure. Unfortunately, those books are for display purposes only and are employed to add an aesthetic quality to the building’s epic design.
This isn’t the first time that China has taken an interest in promoting literacy in recent years. In 2016, China laid the foundation for Africa’s largest university library in Tanzania. That particular library is set to open in 2025. It will boast a space of 20,000 square meters, house over 800,000 books, and accommodate 2,600 university students.