New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

International architecture practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has won a two stage competition to design the new city library for Shanghai which is expected to be opened in 2020. Shanghai is currently the most populous city in the world with nearly 25 million inhabitants and has a central library system that dates back to 1847. The new 110,000 m2 library, located in Pudong District – the area of the city known for its iconic skyline, will sit immediately next to Century Park – the largest park in the city spread over 140 hectares.

New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

The project is conceived as a singular monolithic object floating above the tree canopy within the park. The main library volume floats above two pavilions that will house a 1,200 seat performance venue, exhibition, and events space and a dedicated children’s library, that will all open up towards a series of landscaped courtyards and gardens.

‘We see the library as the focal point in a park. A central rock within a city scale Chinese garden’, said Chris Hardie, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. ‘One of the most compelling things about this project is its location within a parkland setting. You are in the heart of the world’s largest city, yet we have the opportunity to create a sanctuary for knowledge and media in the trees.’

New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

The project completes a trilogy of cultural projects alongside the Science & Technology Museum and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre – all which surround the center of the Pudong Government – and sits alongside Century Avenue that links Century Park to the Business District that forms now the globally recognizable skyline of Shanghai.

In 1995, Shanghai Library merged with the Shanghai Institute of Scientific and Technological Information resulting in an advanced and comprehensive public library, the first in China that combines public library services with scientific and technological research functions.

New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

‘A modern library is not only a place for the storage and lending of different materials, it is also a place to stay, a place for social interaction and a place to be inspired and surprised’, said Morten Schmidt, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen.

‘The answer to these changes and challenges are what we refer to as a shift from collection to connection. Libraries are not only passive collections, but vibrant institutions connecting users with knowledge, experiences, innovation and not least their fellow citizens’, he added.

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The library itself is organized around a grand central atrium in the form of three staggered reading rooms that open up and connect to various parts of the library and various contextual parts of the city from Century Park to the east, a new library park to the south and the city to the north and west.

The library volume is carved and twisted to reflect the surrounding park and sky, and continuously clad in a facade of clear, insulated and fritted glass. The glass panels are arranged in horizontal bands that are angled to minimize solar glare in addition to horizontal louvers – allowing unobstructed panoramic views of the park and city beyond.

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New Shanghai Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects


ARCHITECT: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
CLIENT: Shanghai Library
AREA: 110,000m2
COMPETITION: 2016, 1st prize, international competition
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Schlaich Bergermann Partner
VISUALS: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Beauty & the Bit and Doug&Wolf

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