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MVRDV, Tianjin Binhai New Area Library, China, Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode

Open Eye: Library by MVRDV

Tianjin is a seaport in north-east China not far from Beijing. Since, like many Chinese cities, Tianjin is subject to rapid growth, a new cultural district was planned in the urban area of Binhai. Involved in this are several internationally active architects, including the Dutch MVRDV office, which designed the library as a transitional structure to the other buildings.

Distributed over five storeys are various educational institutions and offices, all of which can be reached from the atrium. This space, which also houses the actual library, functions as a link between the park in front of the building and the cultural institutions to the rear. Two oval openings in the library form a visual axis through the building, which is interrupted by the "Eye" — the radiant, spherical auditorium. From outside, it gives the impression that the building itself has an overdimensional eye.

Internally, the organically meandering rows of bookshelves extend from floor to ceiling, and it is possible to climb to half their height, before they again diminish in size in the vaulted space towards the top.
Originally, all the shelves were to be filled with books, the upper rows being reached from the rear side. On site, however, a decision was made to fill the shelves with aluminium strips printed with book-like forms instead of inserting genuine volumes.

Above the auditorium is a large, circular roof light that allows additional illumination into the library and provides the two storeys above the atrium with light from a central source.
The basement of the building houses all service installations, a book store and an archive.
The structure forms part of a master plan by the German architectural office gmp, whose aim it was to accentuate the characteristics of the surrounding districts and to compensate for any facilities lacking in the urban area.

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Additional information:

Area: 33,700 m2
Design team: Winy Maas, Wenchian Shi, Maria López Calleja with Kyosuk Lee, Sen Yang, Marta Pozo, Chi Li, Ray Zhu, Ángel Sánchez Navarro, Daehee Suk, Guang Ruey Tan, Xichen Sun, Michael Zhang, Mariya Gyaurova, Jaime Dominguez Bálgoma, Antonio Luca Coco, Costanza Cuccato, Matteo Artico and Tomaso Maschietti
Concept design:
Winy Maas together with Renske van der Stoep, Martine Vledder, Kyosuk Lee, Gerard Heerink, Chi Li, Francisco Pomares, Nicolas Lee, Claudia Bode, Sharon Sin, Jaap Baselmans, Herman Gaarman, Hui Hsin Liao, Antonio Luca Coco, Costanza Cuccato, Matteo Artico and Tomaso Maschietti
Co-architects: Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), Tianjin, China
Lighting design: Huayi Jianyuan Lighting Design

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