It’s fairly safe to assume we can all agree that books infuse spaces with texture, colour, depth and character, adding a sense of comfort and a certain warmth. In this increasingly digital and intangible world we live in, books and libraries give us a sense of security and the familiar, at the same time evoking a certain thirst for knowledge – a child-like wonder. Having said all this, unless you’re at Hogwarts, libraries can be a fairly uninspiring place to hang out. Rows and rows of boring books, spines of which are hardly the material de jour for architectural masterpieces. Without so much as a floating bookcase or levitating random book to keep you engaged, how is one to entice the reader into the Hallowed Halls? How do you take piles of books and construct an interior that not only encapsulates the reason for the space, that is to sit and read, but also takes the same space to a whole never level that actually makes one want to submerge into it? These exceptional examples of libraries (and bookstores) across the globe not only engage the mind, but invigorate the soul… and without so much as an abracadabra swish of a wand.
Seashore Library in China by Vector Architects
From outside, it looks like a weathered rock that is pure and solid; but inside, it contains rich feelings and experiences. When walking into the space, one starts to feel the light, breezes, and sound of the ocean. This cast-concrete library sits on a stretch of deserted beach facing the East China Sea and features a tiered reading hall topped by a curving ceiling. The cast in-situ concrete walls are imprinted with the grain of their timber formwork – influenced by the rippled markings left behind on the sand by the wind and water.