A multistory, “leaning” library with a rounded footprint has been designed for Songdo International City, a tech-based, intellectual, eco-city located 56 km from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Submitted by Beijing-based architectural firm aoe as part of an international competition for the city’s new public library and cultural center, the design reimagines libraries for the 21st century, incorporating sustainable design with the needs and comfort of users. The building includes spaces for the typical reading and learning experiences that are expected of public libraries as well as gathering, exhibition, and venue spaces for indoor and outdoor community gatherings.
Inside the building, two key spaces will be carved out for users. A multilevel cascading reading hall with broad, angled windows will be on the south-facing side of the building, offering extensive views of nature. A community living hall for gathering and holding events and exhibitions will be on the north-facing side with views of the city. Additional spaces will include an auditorium and community classrooms.
The library was designed as a landmark building for the city and to offer space for residents and tourists to enjoy. The rounded footprint maximizes access points from the surrounding community and open space around the building that can be used for gatherings while minimizing the impact the new building would have on a neighboring kindergarten. A striking 18.5-degree visual “lean” to the south gives a signature look to the glass and charred wood-clad structure while protecting the south-facing interiors from solar gain in summer and maximizing thermal gain in the winter.
Maximizing natural ventilation and recycling the energy used in the building will also be part of the structure’s sustainable design elements.
Structurally, the building will utilize a concrete core wall with a cantilever-truss system. Just four diagonal structural columns will be necessary for bracing, which will enable the extensive open interior spaces.