Libraries have traditionally been a central attraction for those gaining knowledge and their detailed, stunning architecture often reflect that fact. In modern times though, libraries have been losing influence in their communities. But there are some designers working to keep interest in our book depositories alive.
Harold Washington Library, USA
Beeby & Babka did a marvelous job of combining old and new design touches in their beautiful, modern neoclassical library. The red brick contrasts strikingly with the dark glass rooftop while still managing to fit in well with the surrounding Chicago architecture.
Central Library of Vancouver, Canada
Taking obvious influence from the Roman Coliseum, Vancouver's central library is one of the city's most famous icons. The beautiful and influential structure was designed by DA Architects and Moshe Safdie and fills up an entire city block and features shops, restaurants, a parking lot, office buildings and a rooftop garden.
Stuttgart City Library, Germany
Designed by Yi Architects, Germany's Stuttgart City Library has a striking cube-like shape covered in a unique pattern of doors lined up nine by nine on the exterior. Inside, the pure white color scheme makes the structure look like a library from heaven. The library is actually just the first completed structure in a much larger development that will be built around it, so these amazing views of the building are only going to be around for a short period.
Halmstad City Library, Sweden
Set in a park near the Nissan River, the Halmstad Library overlooks the city's historic center with floor-to-ceiling windows stretching across the entire building's exterior, providing natural light and a completely green heat source. The structure, design by Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen, extends beyond the walkway along the river and into the Nissan itself like an enclosed pier.
National Library of Belarus
The dramatic shapes and angles of Belarus' national library have led to the structure quickly becoming one of the most popular attractions in the city. The arhombicuboctahedron structure designed by Victor Kramarenko and Mikhail Vinogradov houses not only the largest collection of Belarusian printed materials, but also the third largest collection of Russian books. Since its opening in 2006, the building has been listed as one of the World's Best Libraries, 100 Most Surprising Acheivements of Modern Architecture and Top 50 Unusual Buildings.
EPM Library, Colombia
Udeb Arquitectos designed the EPM library to look like an upside down pyramid, with the massive structure stretching over 107,000 square feet. The entrance plaza is adorned by a collection of white columns that stretch into the sky like a white forest and the entire library project was completed along with a major urban renewal plan to revitalize the city of Medellin.
TU Delft Library, The Netherlands
The largest technical scientific library in The Netherlands, Delft University's cone-topped study center is a popular destination for everyone in the area that is seeking to expand their knowledge. The roof of the structure is covered in grass, allowing students a comfortable place to relax and read under the sun, while keeping the library itself well insulated and comfortable. At the same time, Mecanoo's use of an iconic white cone creates a unique focal point that lets natural light flow into the building below.
The Black Diamond, Denmark
With tons of irregular angles and a polished black granite exterior, The Black Diamond is a highly appropriate name for the Royal Danish Library. Designed by Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen, the structure is one of the most famous landmarks along the Copenhagen waterfront. The library not only houses space for over 200,000 books, but also scientific institutions, exhibition rooms, a cafe, a bookshop and a restaurant.
Spanish Park Library, Colombia
Perched on a hill rising above Santo Domingo, the Parque Biblioteca España is an icon of modernist design in South America. The three rock-like buildings are a major contrast to the plain, low-income homes in the area, providing a place for locals to learn and dream. As architect Giancarlo Mazzanti explained, “We wanted to take people from this poor community into another place and change their reality.”
Peckham Library, UK
Will Alsop of Alsop & Stormer designed this library was designed to look like no other building in the area in order to inspire curiosity from passersby. After its grand opening in March of 2000, it quickly received numerous awards, including the Stirling Award for architectural innovation, the Civic Trust Award for excellence in public architecture, the Copper Cladding Award and more.
These lovely libraries remind us of the knowledge and magic that hides within the pages on their shelves, reminding us that even in our technological age, there is still plenty of room for good old fashioned books. While this list only features libraries from the Americas and Europe, we fully intend to feature more libraries in future articles from other fantastic locations across the globe.