Shunde Library by Warren and Mahoney Limited
Architects & Firms
The library, together with a performing arts center and two museums, forms the new cultural center of Shunde, a fast-growing district with a population of about 1 million located in Foshan in the Pearl Delta Region.
Standing on the previously context-free district center, the library and its neighbors adopted bold geometries. Functionality and meeting the tight budget were the major concerns in design, resulting in a simple rectilinear form that was easy and cheap to build. Free of odd shapes, the plan allowed for flexibility of layout. The “no-frills” approach turned functional elements—like the reading booths and the staircase—into design features. Additionally, climatically responsive facades minimized energy consumption while careful planning and a clear segregation of day and night zones cut management costs.
The library, apart from serving the community as a district main library, also houses two exhibition halls on its lower floors, which take up more than a quarter of the total gross floor area. Formed by colonnades of reading booths, the lobby was designed to resemble a gigantic bookcase that orients visitors to the correct sections of the library, while reading areas are punctuated with gardens and courtyards.
The theme of bamboo (in Chinese ideology the scholar of nature) was reflected in the design of the elevation and choice of materials. The interior of the library follows the Chinese idiom (bright windows and tidy furniture), which defines the ideal study environment for Chinese readers. Except for the west side for energy reasons, the all-glass facades with considerable shading from the projecting features allow a flexible layout of the reading spaces while a minimalist interior provides visitors with a neat and harmonious environment for reading and study.