Completed in 2017, the Tianjin Binhai Library stands as an architectural epitome of innovation, brought to life through the collective brilliance of MVRDV and the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI). Nestled in the heart of Tianjin, this 33,700 square meters cultural center serves as more than a library – it is a dynamic social space, an education hub, and a critical connector from the park to the city’s cultural district.
Tianjin Binhai Library Technical Information
- Architects: MVRDV
- Location: Tianjin, China
- Topics: Libraries, Organic Shapes
- Area: 33,700 m2 | 362,548 ft2
- Project Year: 2015 – 2017
- Photographs: © Ossip van Duivenbode
The library is MVRDV’s most rapid fast track project to date. It took just three years from the first sketch to the opening.– MVRDV team
Tianjin Binhai Library Photographs
Beyond Books: Tianjin Binhai Library as a Social Connector
Text by the Architects
The 33,700m2 cultural center features a luminous spherical auditorium and floor-to-ceiling cascading bookcases as not only an education center but also a social space and connector from the park into the cultural district.
An oval opening punctured through the building is propped open by “the Eye“, a luminous 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 louver.
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 and Bing Thom Architects.
The five-level building also contains extensive educational facilities, arrayed along the edges of the interior and accessible through the main atrium space. The public program is supported by subterranean service spaces, book storage, and a large archive. From the ground floor, visitors can easily access reading areas for children and the elderly, the auditorium, the main entrance, terraced access to the floors above, and connection to the cultural complex. The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books, and lounge areas whilst the upper floors also include meeting rooms, offices, computer and audio rooms, and two rooftop patios.
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 program in each. The library’s outer volume was given in the master plan, 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.
The library is MVRDV’s most rapid, fast-track project to date. It took just three years from the first sketch to the opening. Due to the given completion date, site excavation immediately followed the design phase. The tight construction schedule forced one essential part of the concept to be dropped: access to the upper bookshelves from rooms placed behind the atrium. This change was made locally and against MVRDV’s advice and rendered access to the upper shelves currently impossible. The full vision for the library may be realized in the future, but until then, perforated aluminum plates printed to represent books on the upper shelves. Cleaning is done via ropes and movable scaffolding.
Tianjin Binhai Library Plans
Tianjin Binhai Library Image Gallery
MVRDV is an internationally renowned architecture and urban design practice headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Founded in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries, the firm is lauded for its innovative, research-based design approach that seeks to address contemporary urban living issues. MVRDV’s work encompasses a diverse range of projects, including buildings of various types and sizes, urban plans, research, and products. Known for pushing architectural norms and proposing novel solutions, their portfolio boasts high-profile projects such as the Markthal in Rotterdam, the Tianjin Binhai Library in China, and the Wozoco apartments in Amsterdam.