This arresting rounded library concept takes into account everything from solar orientation to ready access to certain areas outside main library hours. It is specifically designed for both locals and tourists

Concept designed by architecture firm Larry Wen, AOE

From the architects:

Songdo International City is located in the vicinity of Incheon Port, 56 km west of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

The city is only a 15-minute drive away from Incheon Airport and its geographical location makes it an ideal place for business and trade in Northeast Asia.

Songdo International City is known for being a tech-based, intellectual, and eco-city.

While the infrastructure of the city is maturing, the development of more cultural buildings – such as this public library – is expected to be a key driver to bring a cultural purpose to the city and its citizens.

The concept starts from understanding the true nature of this library, that it will not only be a landmark in a city, but also connect with both local citizens and tourists.

Snowing outdoors? Great reason to curl up with
Snowing outdoors? Great reason to curl up with a good book.

In response, two key spaces were carved out to create a Reading Hall (towards the south-facing natural view) and a Community Living Hall (towards north facing city/community) for the citizens/visitors to gather and possibly to host events or exhibitions.

It is hoped that this new-generation library will bring great reading/learning experiences to the public, and at the same time become a popular local venue for events, gatherings, and exhibitions.

The rounded form responds best to its surrounding context, allowing maximum access from different directions; minimising impact on the neighbouring kindergarten; and maximising open space for citizens to gather.

Moreover, based on precise calculations by the designer, the building leans at an angle of 18.5° to the south to avoid direct sunlight in summer, and to retain warmth in winter, creating a bright, comfortable, and energy-saving space for reading and events.

A concrete core wall with a cantilever-truss system provides the structure.

According to calculations by engineers, the reading hall uses only 4 structural columns for diagonal bracing, so that visitors enjoy the most extensive space for reading and viewing.

The proposed library's Living Hall.
The proposed library's Living Hall.

After careful consideration, charred wood cladding and a glass curtain were selected as the main materials for the façade.

The combination of these two materials not only brings a contrast of visual appearances, it also adapts to the local context in terms of climate.

The charred wood is expected to last for 80 to 100 years, with minimal maintenance needed.

The two main interior organisations of the library include the Living Hall (North facing) which connects the outdoor public space, and is used for events, gatherings, and open lectures.

Plus, the Auditorium and Community Classrooms are all accessible by the public even if the main library area is closed.

The other main interior is the General Reading Hall (South facing). This cascading space is organised into multiple reading zones to encourage different learning activities for both individual and group users.

Reading Hall 1 – but with views like
Reading Hall 1 – but with views like this would you actually get much reading done?


Sustainability considerations were looked at in the early concept stage, as the building tilted to the south to avoid direct sunlight and reduce heat gain in summer and gain thermal energy in winter.

This would create a comfortable reading space (South facing) and a bright community living hall (North facing) for events and exhibitions.

Further sustainable and LEED design strategy helps the building with natural ventilation, low energy consumption, maximum recycled energy, and collections, creating truly self-sustaining architecture.

Credit list

Architecture firm
Arup Group
Aoe Interiors
Design team
Jichang Pan, Xiangting Li, Ye Wang, Ruixue Fan, Yu Lu, Zhiyu Chang, Chen Liu (Interior), Yawen Xue (Interior)
Limited facade – engineer

Designed by: AOE

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Ramka Co

25 Apr, 2021

We know the Specialists

Related Book

Nz343C Cover Minicover - apartment | architecture | apartment, architecture, building, city, commercial building, condominium, facade, home, house, metropolitan area, mixed-use, neighbourhood, property, real estate, residential area, tower block, urban design, blue

While apartment living has always been prevalent in some cities, there are others where it is still a developing accommo...

Read More

Similar Stories