The building’s design is inspired by the surrounding Wuhan landscape, with MVRDV calling it a “book cannon.”
Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has won a competition to build what will become one of the largest libraries in China. The extensive design of the Wuhan Library combines traditional and non-traditional spaces, all housed under a sculptural roof inspired by the city’s rivers.
Described by the firm as a “book canyon,” the sprawling complex covers approximately 1.5 million square feet. Three spectacular windows placed at different points of view look towards the city as a nod to its position at the confluence of two rivers. This care to incorporate natural forms also extends to the interior of the library, where a stepped terrace of books alludes to a canyon.
This terrace is built from the large public space on the ground floor that visitors can use throughout the day. Pavilion-like spaces on the terrace lend topographical character, as well as provide areas for reading, working, browsing books, and participating in library programs. “When you walk in, certain elements of the landscape come together,” says Jacob van Rijs, founding partner of MVRDV. “There are a number of plateaus that can be used to study.
The largest will be for the most popular areas. The higher you go, the quieter the study and reading spaces will be, catering to the needs of visitors. The topography of Wuhan was a major 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 skyscrapers.
This is nature versus the city, and the building is somehow focusing on this. I think this makes it an exciting place to meet.”