MVRDV reveals winning design for the new Wuhan Central Library

MVRDV has won the competition to design Wuhan, China’s new central library. The 140,000-square-meter project, which is set to become one of China’s largest libraries, combines traditional and non-traditional functions with a variety of study, living room, reading, and studio spaces. Located at a highly visible site next to the Baofeng overpass in Wuhan’s Central Business District.

The structure connects to its surroundings through three large openings that will serve as visual displays of life inside the structure, arousing curiosity and intrigue. This distinctive, three-faced flowing shape celebrates Wuhan’s location at the confluence of two rivers and will become a new recognizable landmark for the city.

Wuhan Central Library

The new Wuhan Central Library will strengthen Wuhan’s public information system and meet functional needs in reading, learning, communication, and innovation, all while boosting the city’s urban economy.

The Wuhan Central Library concept is inspired by city’s geography, honoring the sculptural force of the rivers not only in form but also in interior character, spatial qualities, and materials. Its form references the varying heights of the surrounding buildings, with three dramatic picture windows facing the city from various vantage points. The tallest of the three windows faces the CBD’s skyline; a low, wide window offers panoramic views of the park opposite; and a long, curving window embraces the adjacent plaza, giving passers-by a glimpse of the vibrancy inside.

Wuhan Central Library
Wuhan Central Library

“Going inside, certain landscape elements come together,” states Jacob van Rijs, founding partner of MVRDV. “There is a series of plateaus that can be used for studying. The biggest one will be for the more popular areas. The higher up you go, the quieter the study and reading spaces will be, serving the needs of visitors. The topography of Wuhan was an important source of inspiration: we have this idea of a horizontal view towards the lakes and on the other hand, we have this more vertical view towards the city with the high rises. This is nature versus the city, and the building is somehow focusing on this. I think this makes it an exciting place to gather.”

Wuhan Central Library

The grand interior canyon draws visitors inside on an urban level. Planting in the surrounding park will complement Wuhan’s climate conditions, ensuring long-term sustainable maintenance. Tall trees provide shade in areas that receive direct sunlight, while the northwest corner of the building shades the main public areas. Native vegetation requires little maintenance and is vibrant all year, filtering water during the rainy season and reducing the heat island effect during the hot summer months.

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