Lusty Libraries Curated by Yellowtrace

 

It’s fairly safe to assume we can all agree that books infuse spaces with texture, colour, depth and character, adding a sense of comfort and a certain warmth. In this increasingly digital and intangible world we live in, books and libraries give us a sense of security and the familiar, at the same time evoking a certain thirst for knowledge – a child-like wonder.

Having said all this, unless you’re at Hogwarts, libraries can be a fairly uninspiring place to hang out. Rows and rows of boring books, spines of which are hardly the material de jour for architectural masterpieces. Without so much as a floating bookcase or levitating random book to keep you engaged, how is one to entice the reader into the Hallowed Halls? How do you take piles of books and construct an interior that not only encapsulates the reason for the space, that is to sit and read, but also takes the same space to a whole never level that actually makes one want to submerge into it?

These exceptional examples of libraries (and bookstores) across the globe not only engage the mind, but invigorate the soul… and without so much as an abracadabra swish of a wand.

 

See More ‘Stories on Design’ Curated by Yellowtrace.

 

 

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace

Seashore Library by Vector Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by He Bin, Su Shengliang, Xia Zh & Sun Dongping.

 

Seashore Library in China by Vector Architects // From outside, it looks like a weathered rock that is pure and solid; but inside, it contains rich feelings and experiences. When walking into the space, one starts to feel the light, breezes, and sound of the ocean. This cast-concrete library sits on a stretch of deserted beach facing the East China Sea and features a tiered reading hall topped by a curving ceiling. The cast in-situ concrete walls are imprinted with the grain of their timber formwork – influenced by the rippled markings left behind on the sand by the wind and water.


 

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj.

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj.

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Iwan Baan.

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Iwan Baan.

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Iwan Baan.

Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito Associates | Yellowtrace
Photography by Iwan Baan.

 

Toyo Ito’s Tama Art University Library in Tokyo // This beautiful library for an art university is located in the suburbs of Tokyo. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden and stretches up a gentle slope. The architects envisioned a structure of randomly placed arches that would create the experience of the front garden’s scenery continuing into the building.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Biblioteca Diposit de les Aigues by Lluis Clotet and Ignacio Paricio | Yellowtrace

Biblioteca Diposit de les Aigues by Lluis Clotet and Ignacio Paricio | Yellowtrace

Biblioteca Diposit de les Aigues by Lluis Clotet and Ignacio Paricio | Yellowtrace

Biblioteca Diposit de les Aigues by Lluis Clotet and Ignacio Paricio | Yellowtrace
Photography by Simón García.

 

University Library in Barcelona (Dipòsit de les Aigües) by Lluis Clotet and Ignacio Paricio // Originally part of the water reservoir system in Barcelona, this building has been utterly transformed by the Spanish architects Lluís Clotet and Ignacio Paricio, into the General Library of the University. The interior space is overwhelming, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, smashing… seriously there are just no words capable of aptly describing such exceptional architecture. It was a respectful intervention by Clotet and Paricio using prefabricated elements for the formation of the intermediate slabs, enabling everything original to be left as it was. The different spaces allow for different experiences within the library. What is most striking is the ceiling heights. A mere 2 metres in some areas soaring to over 12 metres in other parts of the building. Hogwarts, eat your heart out.


 

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx and Girod Architecten | Yellowtrace

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx and Girod Architecten | Yellowtrace

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx and Girod Architecten | Yellowtrace
Photography by Roos Aldershoff.

 

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx+Girod Architecten // A bookstore inside a former Dominican church won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007. The architects wanted to emphasize the building’s height and exceptional architecture by creating a multi-level, monumental, black, walk-in bookcase situated asymmetrically in the church. In this way the left hand side of the church retains the complete height whilst on the right, visitors are directed to the upper levels of this steel ‘book-flat’. The bookcase is a grand gesture, a statement that matches the monumental dimensions of the church and gives an extra dimension. Due to the passageways, perspectives and the use of perforated steel, the flat appears to be light and transparent in spite of its size. The object neither imposes on the space nor clashes with the church’s architecture; it enhances its experience.


 

Laudense Library by Michele De Lucchi | Yellowtrace

Laudense Library by Michele De Lucchi | Yellowtrace

Laudense Library by Michele De Lucchi | Yellowtrace

Laudense Library by Michele De Lucchi | Yellowtrace
Photography by Alessandra Chemollo.

 

Laudense Library by Michele De Lucchi // The Laudense Library is a prestigious institution situated in the historic centre of Lodi. The project converts the monastery into a living place, in addition to the rooms devoted to reading and study, also accommodates a collection of newspapers and periodicals, internet desks, a literary café, a civic hall for weddings and conferences, a foyer, a music room and a cinema. A floor-to-ceiling glazed wall, punctuated by an oak wood frame, signals the new access from Via Solferino.


 

Trinity College Library in Dublin Ireland | Yellowtrace

Trinity College Library in Dublin Ireland | Yellowtrace

 

Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland // The Long Room at Trinity College’s Old Library is distinctive and beautiful. The barreled ceiling, the marble bust of famous philosopher and writers that line the central walkway make the space exceptionally grand and awe inspiring. From the gallery there are a series of fluted Corinthian columns of carved oak supporting a broad cornice, surmounted by a balustrade of oak. The Library is the permanent home to the famous Book of Kells.


 

The Sea Library in Awashima, Japan by ETAT Japan | Yellowtrace.

The Sea Library in Awashima, Japan by ETAT Japan | Yellowtrace.
Images courtesy of ETAT arkitekter.

 

The Sea Library in Awashima, Japan by ETAT Arkitekter // What do you get when you mix Scandinavian design with a Japanese aesthetic? A symphony of beauty, simplicity and extraordinary detailing. Stockholm-based Erik Törnkvist and Malin Belfrage of ETAT Architects have designed this little library dedicated to the sea. The space is located inside a 1920s schoolhouse on Awashima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. The Library is part of the Setouchi Triennale 2013 – it is a place where visitors are invited to donate books about the history and stories of the ocean.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Yangzhou Zhongshuge China by Li Xiang | Yellowtrace

Yangzhou Zhongshuge China by Li Xiang | Yellowtrace

Yangzhou Zhongshuge China by Li Xiang | Yellowtrace

Yangzhou Zhongshuge China by Li Xiang | Yellowtrace
Photography by Shao Feng.

 

Yangzhou Zhongshuge bookstore in Zhen Yuan, China by Li Xiang // Inside the spectacular Yangzhou Zhongshuge, the architects have used the concept of the bridge, extending the visual sign of the world of books. Reminiscent of the nearby rivers in Zhen Yuan, the mirrored floor and ceiling flows into the depth of the space, leading readers to sink deeper into the vast ocean of knowledge. The bookshelves on two sides extend the shape of the skyline with graceful arcs, just like a bridge over the streams acting as a link between the readers and the books.

 

 


 

Exeter Library by Louis Kahn. Photo by Sean Norsworthy | Yellowtrace

Exeter Library by Louis Kahn. Photo by Sean Norsworthy | Yellowtrace

 

Exeter Library in USA by Louis Kahn //Khan’s iconic Phillips Exeter Academy Library, with 160,000 volumes on nine levels and a shelf capacity of 250,000 volumes, is the largest secondary school library in the world. When it became clear in the 1950s that the library had outgrown its existing building, the school hired an architect who proposed a traditional design for the new building. Deciding instead to construct a contemporary library, the school awarded the commission to Louis Kahn in 1965. In 1997, the library received the Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects, recognising this building as a work of architecture of enduring significance – an award given to just one building per year.


 

Kanazawa Umimirai Library by Coelacanth K&H Architects | Yellowtrace

Kanazawa Umimirai Library by Coelacanth K&H Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by Satoshi Asakawa.

 

Kanazawa Umimirai Library in Kanazawa Japan by Coelacanth K&H Architects // Libraries in Japan are moving towards a model that encourages readers to stay and linger, instead of their original function as spaces for collecting and lending out books. This library consists of a single quiet and tranquil room that resembles a forest, filled with soft light and a feeling of openness reminiscent of the outdoors. The overall structure of the library resembles an internal three-layered floor covered with a large box. The large external “punching wall” in the cavernous reading room features some 6,000 small openings (measuring 200, 250 and 300mm) across its entire surface that allow a soft, uniform light to enter the building.


 

CREC Sales Pavilion & Library by Van Wang Architects | Yellowtrace

CREC Sales Pavilion & Library by Van Wang Architects | Yellowtrace

CREC Sales Pavilion & Library by Van Wang Architects | Yellowtrace

CREC Sales Pavilion & Library by Van Wang Architects | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Van Wang Architects.

 

CREC Sales Pavilion & Library in China by Van Wang Architects // This library was originally a sales pavilion built in Guiyang, Guizhou China. Instead of it becoming a temporary building, the architects introduced a community library into the building as a sustainable solution. The design is inspired by a toy, a building block if you will. They built the bookcases in the same way as one plays with building blocks. They re-define the whole space by stacking and overlapping two atriums, from the ground to the ceiling. The mezzanine corridor which connects the two clusters of “blocks”, not only increases the reading area but also produces a dramatic and coherent space. It is cantilevered with independent steel structures hidden in the bookcases so that no columns are exposed.


 

Spectacular Renovation of The National Library of France by Atelier Bruno Gaudin | Yellowtrace

Spectacular Renovation of The National Library of France by Atelier Bruno Gaudin | Yellowtrace
Photography by Marchand Meffre and Takuji Shimmura.

 

Spectacular Renovation of The National Library of France by Jean-Francois Lagneau // A grand and historic library, the renovation of these buildings is both distinguished and beautiful. After careful consideration and intense research the architects devised several key strategies to redesign the complex. A central longitudinal foyer as the main access. Central stairway that ensures vertical access and shifting the divide between public and non-public areas. In areas that needed reconfiguring or where some level of intervention was necessary they kept the palette and finishes fairly neutral.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Elena Garro Cultural Center by Fernanda Canales arquitectura | Yellowtrace

Elena Garro Cultural Center by Fernanda Canales arquitectura | Yellowtrace
Photography © Jaime Navarro.

 

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales + arquitectura 911sc // The library, an adaptation of an existing house, a building from early-20th century, has been transformed into a cultural centre in Mexico. The need to preserve the existing property led to the decision that the project would highlight the new uses and at the same time, respect the original shell.

The project consists of several elements. The first, the entrance, a kind of frame, linking the building with the street and highlighting the existing house. The second, a series of gardens and courtyards surrounding the project. And thirdly, a rectangular volume at the back of the site, developed on three levels, consisting of a multi-purpose room, storerooms, and parking lots on ground floor.


 

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre Berlin by Max Mudler Architekt | Yellowtrace

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre Berlin by Max Mudler Architekt | Yellowtrace

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre Berlin by Max Mudler Architekt | Yellowtrace
Photography by Stefan Müller.

 

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre Berlin by Max Dudler Architekt // In some areas this library towers 38 meters high, standing tall in comparison to the low level architecture that tends to be seen in Berlin, which is known to be a fairly ‘flat’ city. This part of the building thrusts itself into the silhouette of the cultural landscape. From the forecourt, one arrives in the centre of the elongated, two-story foyer. This forms a light-flooded prelude in a refined succession of rooms leading to the heart of the building, the great reading room. The great reading room was arranged in receding levels. Through its size and its many-tiered, almost scenic design, the space effects a sense of the outdoors, which is further emphasised by the large plates of glass used in the “sky” glazing.


 

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27 | Yellowtrace

Livraria Cultura by Studio MK27 | Yellowtrace
Photography by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

 

Livraria Cultura Bookstore by Diana Radomysler, Luciana Antunes, Marcio Tanaka, Mariana Ruzante + Studio MK27 / Marcio Kogan // A bookstore with a meeting place was the main premise of the architectural project of the bookstore Livraria Cultura at Iguatemi. More than just merely a place to shop, the store is inviting to stay and hang-out. The books encircle the space, supported by eleven large tables arranged orthogonally in the large room and on white stands on the peripheral areas. These shelves have built-in LEDs and delimit the space, as a cube internally clad with books. A multi-use room, especially for conferences – that earned the name philosophical café -, a room reserved for a garden and books for children, completing the program.


 

 

Office 78 Architecture Library by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen | Yellowtrace

Office 78 Architecture Library by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen | Yellowtrace
Photography by Bas Princen.

 

Office 78 Architecture Library by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen // This library was the winning proposal for a competition held in Ghent, Belgium. It was the transformation of an existing hall into a library at the faculty of architecture at Ghent University. The remarkable aspect of this refurbishment was the insertion of a large, pavilion-like piece of furniture under the existing balcony of the Physics hall. This accessible, three-storied cupboard, bolted construction of prefabricated steel elements, forms a complete perimeter around the central, atrium-like space, enforcing its monumental scale.


 

Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum in Osaka by Tadao Ando | Yellowtrace

Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum in Osaka by Tadao Ando | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Tadao Ando.

 

Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum in Osaka by Tadao Ando // The museum built in memory of the author Shiba Ryotaro, was designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando and is built on a site in Higashiosaka, next to the house where the author lived for many years. The project for the two buildings was conceived as a single integrated whole. The study that faces the park houses his impressive library.


 

Musashino Art University Museum & Library by Sou Fujimoto | Yellowtrace

Musashino Art University Museum & Library by Sou Fujimoto | Yellowtrace

Musashino Art University Museum & Library by Sou Fujimoto | Yellowtrace
Photography by Daici Ano.

 

Musashino Art University Museum & Library by Sou Fujimoto // This project is a new library for a highly distinguished art university in Japan. It involved designing a whole new building and refurbishing the existing one into an art gallery, which will ultimately create a new integration of the Library and the Art Gallery. Acting as a huge ark, a total of 200,000 units, of which 100,000 will be in an open-archive, while the other half, within a closed-archive, rests within this double-storey library of 6,500sqm in floor area. It is a library made from bookshelves.


 

Centro De Documentacion De Las Artes Escenicas De Andalucia by SSW Arquitectos | Yellowtrace

Centro De Documentacion De Las Artes Escenicas De Andalucia by SSW Arquitectos | Yellowtrace

Centro De Documentacion De Las Artes Escenicas De Andalucia by SSW Arquitectos | Yellowtrace
Photography by Fernando Alda.

 

Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts in Andalusia by SSW Arquitectos // This was an adaptation project for the church of Saint Lucia for use as the Andalucian Performing Arts Documentation Centre. The church was constructed in the 14th Century. The structure consists of three naves; a main central nave and two narrower side ones, separated by brick arches that rest upon large rectangular pillars that are also made of brick. The building was in good condition, however it lacked certain provisions that were considered essential for the new usage of the building. Among these requirements was the air conditioning, essential for the storage and consultation of books and other documents.


 

Dropbox Offices in San Francisco by Rapt Studio | Yellowtrace
Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Dropbox Offices in San Francisco by Rapt Studio // Like any library, this one is designed to lend an air of quiet solitude but with the benefit of being surrounded by others, so you don’t feel isolate or lonely. And here you’re unlikely to feel either. Designed as a “swoopy cocoon” you won’t find any hard edges in this space. The soft pink carpet and chairs, an unlikely colour choice for a dynamic, techy organisation, is borrowed from the European opera houses, specifically chosen to illicit a feeling of peace and luxury. Organic curved archways break the length of the lineal space into sections and contain bookcases made of walnut-veneered shelving. Plonking down at the long, walnut tables with their Kennedy style desk lamps you could be transport back to the 50’s.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Vennesla Library & Culture House by Helen + Hard | Yellowtrace

Vennesla Library & Culture House by Helen + Hard | Yellowtrace
Photography by Emile Ashley.

 

Vennesla Library and Culture House in Norway by Helen + Hard // Norwegian architects Helen & Hard bring a sophisticated elegance to the public library in Norway. The project links an existing community house and learning centre, and has become an extension of the main city square with its transparent facade and urban loggia. The expressive ribs combine structure, technical infrastructure, and functionality into one architectonic element that creates a dynamic aesthetic identity.


 

 

Library Ebracher Hof Schweinfurt by Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architekten | Yellowtrace

Library Ebracher Hof Schweinfurt by Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architekten | Yellowtrace
Photography by Christoph Rokitta & Annette Kisling.

 

Ebracher Hof Library in Schweinfurt, Germany by Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architekten // The library is part of the Art Libraries Network Florence-Paris-Munich-Rome, a co-operation between four non-university research institutes. It is a stunning piece of architecture blending both the old library with the contemporary new additions to the build. Rows of beautiful timber boxes house books, old stone walls meet satin finished oak floors. Sheets of concrete panelled walls and glass are the perfect companions to the aged stone brickwork.


 

Home & Studio of Mexican Sculptor Pedros Reyes | Yellowtrace
Photography by Edmund Sumner.

 

Brutalist Home & Studio of Mexican Sculptor Pedro Reyes & Carla Fernandez // Mexican sculptor Pedro Reyes and his fashion-designer wife Carla Fernandez live in this brutalist and Barragán-inspired house-studio in Mexico City. The residence contains a magnificent and expansive, double height library. The cement blocks, made by local craftsmen, make up the building material for the library. The concrete finish is raw and rough and unapologetic for both. The library also houses bespoke furniture designed by the couple.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse | Yellowtrace
Photography by Shao Feng.

 

Zhongshuge Hangzhou Bookshop in China by XL Muse // Yangzhou Zhongshuge is located in Zhen Yuan, next to the waterside and in front of the trees. While inheriting the previous solemn architecture, XL Muse added a series of arch bridges – an indispensable element of historical and cultural significance into their design concept. The symbol of the bridge is used as the guiding factor between culture and commerce and it represents in this bookstore the bond between humans and books. A sense of mystery is created by the soft lighting under the bridges that makes the readers think of a river under the bridge sparkling in the sun.


 

Crazy Beautiful SPenthouse in São Paulo by Studio MK27 | Yellowtrace

Images courtesy of Studio MK27.

 

Crazy Beautiful SPenthouse in São Paulo by Studio MK27 // The project was created with minimal division, shaping an interior with seamless spatial continuity. Infinite circulation paths accentuate fluidity between the spaces and configure functional pathways by providing clear spatial understanding for the residents and their guests. The top floor has a double-height ceiling and houses the library. Timber is resplendent in this library space, where the joinery walls were designed with dizzyingly high, full height bookshelves, complete with timber wrapping around the walls and the ceiling.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Liyuan Library in Beijing by Li Xiaodong | Yellowtrace

Liyuan Library in Beijing by Li Xiaodong | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Li Xiaodong Atelier.

 

Liyuan Library in Beijing by Li Xiaodong // This project is a modest addition to the small village of Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing. The building blends into the landscape through the delicate choice of materials specifically locally sourced wooden sticks piled around each house, and the careful placement of the building volume. The interior is spatially diverse, using steps and small level changes to create distinct places. It frames the views of the surrounding landscape. The wooden sticks temper the bright light and spread it evenly throughout the space to provide for a perfect reading ambience.


 

Story Pod Community Library in Toronto by Atelier Kastelic Buffey | Yellowtrace
Photo by Shai Gil.

 

The Story Pod: Community Library in Toronto by Atelier Kastelic Buffey // The Story Pod is a community-supported lending library designed by Atelier Kastelic Buffey. The Pod is a compact and acts as an urban marker. As users move around the box, the rhythm of its vertical slats changes. The tightest spacing articulates opaque walls; the larger gaps, backed by transparent Lexan, allow light and views to filter through. The widest openings display the book stacks, showcasing the spines and encouraging readers to come in. During the day two of the walls pivot open like the covers of a book. At night, when the doors are locked, recessed, energy efficient LED lights, powered by solar panels on the roof, glow through the lattice work like a lantern, providing ambience for night markets or community events.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

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