MVRDV have, with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), designed Tianjin Binhai Library as part of a larger plan to provide a cultural district for the city. The building acts not only as an education centre but as a connector from the park into the cultural district. An oval opening punctured through the building is propped open by the Eye, a mirrored sphere with an auditorium, which takes the main stage within the atrium and enlarges the perceived space within. Terraced bookshelves which echo the form of the sphere create an interior, topographical, landscape whose contours reach out and wrap around the façade. In this way, the stepped bookshelves within are represented on the outside, with each level doubling up as a louvre.
The futuristic library sits within a sheltered gallery, topped with cathedral-like vaulted arches, which winds its way throughout the scheme. MVRDV’s project is surrounded by four other cultural buildings designed by an international team of architects including Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects, HH Design and GMP.
The five levels of the building contain an extensive programme of educational facilities. The subterranean level has in it service spaces, book storage, and a large archive, whilst above this on the ground floor are easy to access reading areas for children and the elderly, the main entrance and access to the cultural complex, the auditorium and terraced access to the floors above. The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books and lounge areas whilst the top two floors also include meeting rooms, offices, computer rooms, and audio rooms.
Tianjin Library is part of German architects GMP’s 120,000m2 masterplan which aims to accentuate the characteristics of the surrounding districts. Through its design, the complex will become a junction point for the CBD, old town, residential districts, commercial areas and the government quarter; hoping to compensate for any missing programme in each. The library’s outer volume was given in the masterplan so the Eye and its surrounding semi-public area are an internal space, like an inverted icon, acting as a central point and folly in the building.