Datong Library aims to resolve the tension between the two major roles of a central library: as a place of community promenade and gathering and as an archive of knowledge and quite place of study.
The form of the building embodies this tension, centering on a reflected pair of exceptional spaces.
At the heart of the spaces of public promenade is a garden courtyard, around which classrooms, a gallery, informal reading rooms, and an auditorium are arrayed.
The symmetrical pair of the courtyard, an expansive atrium, ties four floors of book stacks together.
The atrium is surrounded by a continuous, four-storey helical ramp lined with bookshelves and study carrels.
Besides perceptually tying the stack and reading areas together, the book ramp represents a typological advance in library design inspired by Asplund’s Stockholm Library.
Cutting-edge parametric software originally intended for use in aircraft design was used from the project’s inception, allowing the building form to retain its essential relational properties while allowing the precise shape to be changed rapidly and dramatically without requiring substantial redesign.
This proved to be invaluable throughout design development: not only was the masterplan changed – along with important site constraints – but the program underwent substantial revision through meetings with the projects stakeholders.
Location: Datong, China
Architect: Preston Scott Cohen
Project Team: Preston Scott Cohen, inc., Cambridge, Ma; Preston Scott Cohen (architectural design); Amit Nemlich (project architect), Matthew Allen, Carl D’apolito-Dworkin, Collin Gardner, Michelle Chang, Juan Jofre, Mary Stuckert, Janna Kauss (project assistants)
Area: 20,000 m2
Project schedule: construction– 2011-2013
Client: Datong City Government