The first libraries have been around since 2600 BC and back then they were nothing more than archives or clay tablets in temple rooms. With time, they evolved into imposing structures and respected buildings all around the world. Modern libraries now take the concept one step further.
1. The new Library of Birmingham.
This is Europe’s largest public library and it’s located in Birmingham, England. It was designed by Dutch studio Mecanoo and it has a very interesting façade featuring interlocking metal rings.
The exterior of the building has a design inspired by the city’s jewelry quarter, with a filigree pattern of metal rings over a glass façade. The library has a ground floor, a mezzanine level, a mid-lower ground floor and mid-mid lower ground floor. The lowest level extends onto a sunken circular courtyard.
2. The Book Mountain and Library Quarter.
This is the new public library built in Spijkenisse, the Netherlands and called the “Book Mountain and Library Quarter”. It was a project by Rotterdam-based MVRDV and it’s basically designed to resemble a mountain of bookshelves contained by a glass-enclosed structure with a pyramidal roof.
The library has an impressive surface of 9,300 square meters, with corridors and platforms accessed via a network of stairs. The library also includes an environmental education center, a number of meeting rooms, an auditorium and several offices.
3. The Vennesla Library and Culture House.
Located in Vennesla, Norway, this modern structure is a new library designed by Helen & Hard. The structure contains, besides the actual library, a café, a number of meeting spaces and administrative areas and a learning center.
All main public functions have been gathered into a single large space. The building is open and accessible from the main city square. As for the design of the library, the building consists of 27 ribs made of timber and plywood boards with gradually shifting shapes.
4. The National Library of Sejong City.
The National Library of Sejong City is located, as expected, in Sejong City, Korea. It was completed in 2013 and it covers a total area of 21,076 square meters. It was a project developed by Samoo Architects in collaboration with KeunJeong Architects & Engineers Inc.
It was designed to resemble a book page being turned over so the geometry of the building is very simple and easily recognizable. The unique shape of the library makes it landmark building for the city.
5. The Sammamish Library.
The Sammamish Library is located in Washington and it was designed by Perkins+Will Architects. It can be found to the south of the Civic Plaza edge and it’s a building with a bright and open design.
It includes a meeting room, a cyber bar and a teen area with views of the plaza. The main reading area features skylights and clerestories so the need for artificial lighting is only felt at night. The library has a sustainable design with an underground parking and low maintenance features throughout.
6. The new library in Almere.
Located in Almere, The Netherlands, this new library was a project by Concrete Architectural Associates. The building was designed by Meyer en van Schooten Architects and it consists of 5000 linear meters of bookshelves and facilities such as counters, internet access areas, a café, study areas and a multimedia department.
It’s a modern space where books are arranged according to shops not by numbers and where each section is a lifestyle-oriented space. Additional functions are integrated into the bookcases.
7. The Cooroy Library.
The Cooroy Library and Digital Information Hub is located in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. It was built in 2010 and it was developed as part of Mill Place Master Plan for Cooroy. The library occupies an area of 1,650 square meters and it creates a connection between the Butter factory Art Gallery and the main city street.
Designed by Brewster Hjorth Architects, the building has a modern and youthful interior with vibrant colors and cheerful shapes. It was designed as two pavilions with a grass roof.
8. Brasiliana Library.
Completed in 2013, the library houses a rare book collection of 17 000 titles. The design of the building was inspired by famous libraries around the world such as the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, in Yale University, USA, and Saint Geneviève Library, in Paris, France and it combines elements taken from their designs in a unique manner.
9. The Queensland State Library.
Located in Brisbane, Australia, the Queensland State Library was built over a period of two years and it was completed in November 2006. The project was developed by Donovan Hill + Peddle Thorp Architects.
It’s the result of a complete transformation of the existing building. The existing structures were expanded and new structures have been added. With an initial size of 10,000 square meters, the library got an additional 12,000 square meters of space and it became more than twice its original size.
10. The Sao Paulo Library.
The Sao Paulo Library was built in 2010 and it covers a total area of 4,527 square meters. It was a project by Aflalo and Gasperini Architects. The building which is now the library used to be a prison and the transformation of the space is spectacular.
The interior is spacious with a flexible layout, with colorful furniture and playful graphics. The library is organized as a bookstore and it also contains a reception area, a small auditorium and a number of reading areas.
11. The University of Aberdeen New Library.
Located in Aberdeen, Scotland, the library was originally established in 1495. It’s the world’s 5th oldest English language university and it has a collection of 250,000 books and manuscripts.
Designed by Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, the structure is a 15,000 square meter facility with 1,200 reading spaces and a room for rare books. The ground floor houses a space for exhibitions, seminars and poetry readings as well as a lounge and café and it has a modern and continuous design.
12. The new Stuttgart City Library.
The new Stuttgart City Library opened its doors on October 21 2011. It was designed by Yi Architects who won a competition for the project in 1999.
The library was built out of pale grey concrete and frosted glass bricks. The façade resembles a shell. Overall, the design is simple and symmetrical. In the center of the building is a cube-shaped room with a fountain in the middle. It’s a space designed for meditation and it’s illuminated by a central roof light.