Beijing City Library opened as the largest climatized reading space in the world

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Beijing City Library
© Snohetta

The Beijing City Library was designed by Snohetta with a focus on reinstating the relevance of libraries in the digital age. It has recently opened its doors to the public and features the world’s largest climatized reading space and China’s largest load-bearing glass system.

Located in the Tongzhou District, which is often regarded as the eastern gateway of the capital, the Beijing City Library is imagined as a new hub for learning, culture, and community. The library features 16-meter tall form terraces at its center, fully accessible and incorporating one of the world’s largest book systems, the Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS).

The building’s slender columns resemble mushrooms and flat panels shaped like ginkgo leaves, referencing a 290 million-year-old tree species native to China. The glass-lined building invites nature into the reading space and provides transparency to the enriched interior environment when viewed from outside.

To achieve the appearance of variety while being efficient to fabricate and install, a single module type is rotated on a 9x9m grid for the ginkgo tree columns. These columns also house integrated technology to control interior climate, lighting, and acoustics, as well as collect rainwater for reuse.

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