Liliane Wong

National Library of China

Accessible
Birkhäuser | 2016
Eintragstyp Entry Type
Project
Eintragssprache Entry Language
EnglischEnglish
Architect
KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
Year
2008
Location
Beijing
Country
China
Building Type
Libraries
Urban Context
Museum District
Morphological Type
Solitary Building
Volumetric Configuration
Linear; Centralized
Height
Mid-Rise (4 to 7 levels)
Floor Area
80,000 m²
Number of Volumes
12 million
Seating Capacity
2,000
Coordinates
39°56'38.7"N 116°19'01.2"E

The design of KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten for the new National Library of China in Beijing was the winning entry in an international competition. Founded in 1909 in a Beijing temple by Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, the library has transformed over the years in name, location, and size to rank today as the third largest national library in the world. Completed in 2008, today’s National Library of China includes the new 80,000 m² facility with its capacity to hold 12 million volumes.

The tripartite design of the library, symbolizing the past, present and future, consists of a solid base, a glazed center section enclosing structural cores and a steel-clad volume at the top. The stone-clad plinth houses the books and documents, representing China‘s rich cultural tradition. The glazed center section accommodates the public information area, access to reading rooms, foyer and cafeteria – all activities anchored to the present. The steel box at the top houses the digital library. Weighing 10,388 tons, the 120 × 105 m earthquake-proof steel of the roof structure is designed as a steel lattice framework. Six reinforced cores transfer this load to the base, thus enabling the column-free “floating ceiling” over the grand reading room. Based on the three traditional Chinese architectural components of building foundations, pillars and a floating ceiling, the form of the new library fulfills the “first function of the NLC“ which, according to curator Zhan Furui, “is to pass on the culture of the Chinese nation.” (Chinaview News)

The collections of the new library also corroborate this function. Among its rich holdings are the Oracle Bones from the Shang Dynasty, the Dunhuang Manuscripts from the Jin Dynasty and the “Si Ku Quan Shu“ or the “Library of the Four Branches of Literature“, unparalleled manuscripts from the Ching Dynasty. These assets constitute the library‘s greatest treasures and are housed in a glass vault through which a visual connection is established between the three parts.

As in many libraries around the world, the NLC faces the challenges of readership in the technological age. Reading rates are steadily dwindling, “from 60.4 % in 1999 to 54.2 % in 2001, 51.7 % in 2001 and 48 % in 2005 and 2007”, as the Chinese use the Internet and online books with greater frequency. The creation of the National Digital Library is part of a strategy to combat this trend and to provide integrated services that include the availability of 10,000 e-books, mobile phone enabled library services and the use of RFID technology for the ease of locating items. Launched in 2005, the mission of the Digital Library Project (DLP) enhances that of the National Library to “serve as the complete and perpetual archive of all Chinese publications.” (Library Connect)The goals of DLP director Fu Ping are twofold: “first, to preserve in digital form manuscripts and books, many ancient and priceless, embodying China’s history and cultural heritage; and second, to capture and preserve more ephemeral forms of today’s dynamic Chinese culture. Web pages, e-journals, blogs and so on – that appear only electronically.” With only 20 % of the National Library’s holdings available to the public in digital form in 2008, the Digital Library will greatly increase the reach of the National Library. The work of KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten is part of the NLC‘s effort to make “use of all conceivable methods, including employing advanced technologies and ideas of administration, to maintain the leading position within the libraries in China and even the world.”

Bibliography

“National Library of China: A Library of 100 Years Shoots for Future”, Chinaview News, September 9, 2009. www.news.cn. Search in Google Scholar

“From Tortoise Shells to Terabytes: The National Library of China’s Digital Library Project”, Library Connect, Elsevier Library Connect Publications, vol. 4, no. 3, August 2006. Search in Google Scholar

Drawings

Ground floor

Third floor

Fifth floor

Cross section

Longitudinal section

Longitudinal section through multi-story reading room

East elevation

East elevation

Photos

 
                     The tripartite division of the building volume is most visible at night

The tripartite division of the building volume is most visible at night

 
                     View of the reading room from the basement level to the third floor

View of the reading room from the basement level to the third floor

QuelleSource

KategorienCategories

Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Urban Context / Modernist City
Kategorie Category
Urban Context / Modernist City / Building Type / Libraries
Kategorie Category
Urban Context / Modernist City / Morphological Type / Solitary Building
Kategorie Category
Morphological Type / Solitary Building / Urban Context / Modernist City
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Morphological Type / Solitary Building
Kategorie Category
Morphological Type / Solitary Building / Building Type / Libraries
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Volumetric Configuration / Linear
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Volumetric Configuration / Centralized
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Height / Mid-Rise (4 to 7 levels)
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Load-Bearing Structure / Column-and-Slab
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Load-Bearing Structure / Wide-Span Structures
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Access Type / Atrium/Hall
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Access Type / Vertical Core
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Floor Plan Layout / Atrium Plan
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Floor Plan Layout / Stacked Programs
Kategorie Category
Building Type / Libraries / Program / National Libraries

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