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Ningbo New Library

Ningbo New Library

Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects
Ningbo, China | View Map
Project Year
Adam Mørk

Ningbo New Library, an elegant blend of cultural functions

Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects as Architects

After opening its Shanghai studio more than 12 years ago, Danish architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects realizes its first library project in China, the 31,800-square-metre Ningbo New Library. Located 200 kilometres south of Shanghai at the centre of Ningbo, China’s new cultural hub, the library is a vital element in the ongoing development of the city.

Founded in 1927, the original Ningbo City Library held the largest collection of historic and ancient books in the region and attracted three to four thousand daily visitors. The new library, with its open, accessible architecture, aims to double the number of daily visitors and become the cultural heart of the community.

“We first came to Ningbo seven years ago when the Eastern New Town area of Ningbo was just beginning to slowly redevelop,” said Chris Hardie, Partner and Design Director Shanghai at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “To see the library completed and part of not only the new ecological wetland landscape, but also the fabric of the local culture, is a rewarding milestone for our team.”

An airy, welcoming new home to two million books

Ningbo New Library is organized around an 8,000-square-metre open “square” on the first level. It comprises the most popular library functions and collections including the main lobby, reader services, children’s library, 24-hour library, a library for the visually impaired, two lecture halls, a café, and the grand reading room. The ground floor is visually open on all sides, connecting it to an external public plaza and a landscaped ecological park and lake.

“We wanted to create a very legible building for Ningbo,” says Hardie. “The previous library was quite labyrinthine, so Ningbo New Library has an intentional spatial clarity.”

In the heart of the library is a central atrium that cuts vertically through the building’s five levels. The generous, 28-metre-high space connects the ground floor square with a series of quieter research spaces and the historic collections on the floors above. The use of natural daylight in all interior spaces is optimized through the building orientation, and natural ventilation is maximized through the central atrium.

A landscape of contemplation

The spatial and architectural concept for the library creates a strong identity at the heart of the development. The journey to the main entrance over the wetland takes the user through a journey of escapism and contemplation where bridges, walkways, water, and nature blend as one sculptural landscape. A distinct and open facade welcomes visitors while casting a shimmering reflection on the lake.

The serene surrounding library landscape contains gardens where ponds form habitats for aquatic plants and animals and where the sky reflects in the pools’ surfaces. The landscape acts as a retreat for meditation and contemplation where people can disconnect from their busy daily lives and enjoy tranquility and relaxation.

Ningbo New Library is one of several Schmidt Hammer Lassen projects that have recently completed in Ningbo, China. The firm has also recently completed the headquarters for Ningbo Daily Newspaper Group as well as the sprawling Ningbo Home of Staff.

Competition Phase - 1st prize in 2016

schmidthammer lassen architects has been announced 1st place winner in the competition to design a 30,000 square metres central library in Ningbo, China. Located in the heart of Ningbo New East Town the new library sits on the edge of a new ecological wetland area which will form a new cultural hub of the city. With its open and accessible design the winning proposal makes it possible to display the library’s collection of more than 2 million books and double the number of daily visitors.

Founded in 1927, the Ningbo City Library holds the largest collection of historic and ancient books in the region. The old library attracts 3–4,000 visitors daily. The aim of the new library is to increase the number of visitors to 7–8,000 per day. To deal with this increase the new library will be organized with an open plan layout containing 3,000 study spaces.

“We have designed a library which is open and accessible. It is organized around an 8,000 square metres open marketplace containing the most popular library functions and collections,” explained Morten Schmidt, partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects. “The marketplace is visually open on all sides connecting to a public plaza and a landscaped ecological park and lake, thus ensuring all interior spaces have a direct connection with the outside.”

In the heart of the library is a central atrium in the form of a giant book stack containing study desks, reading booths, internet stations and media spaces. This generous 28-metre-high space connects the marketplace at ground floor level with a series of quieter research spaces and the historic collections above. The atrium provides natural light to the centre of the building during the day and acts as an urban lantern at night.

“The new library project is part of a transformation that the city of Ningbo is currently undergoing. Our proposal sits at the heart of the new town’s first phase immediately next to the new headquarters for the Ningbo Government. This location alone shows the importance the city has placed on its new Central Library,” said Chris Hardie, associate partner and head of schmidt hammer lassen architects’ Shanghai office.

From a sustainable viewpoint the library design maximises the use of passive solutions over technological add-ons. For instance the use of natural daylight in all interior spaces is optimized through the building orientation. Natural ventilation will be maximized through the central atrium and the structure of the building will consist ofexposed concrete to optimize thermal stability during hot summer months and cool winters.

Ningbo New Library is the first library designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects in China. It joins an impressive list of libraries designed by the studio: 8 completed and 4 currently under construction. Best known is the Royal Library in Copenhagen, which has set new standards for academic libraries all over the world. The most recently completed library is the Aberdeen University New Library, which received a RIBA Award in 2013. Under construction is Aarhus’s new public library – Dokk1, which will become Scandinavia’s largest library, and Halifax Central Library in Canada. Both are due for completion in 2014.

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