One of world’s largest libraries opens in Shanghai

6 October 2022
Credit: Schmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Scmidt Hammer Lassen

Schmidt Hammer Lassen




Schmidt Hammer Lassen inspired by ancient scholars for modern cultural centre

Shanghai Library East, a new civic landmark and cultural destination designed by Tenderstream member Schmidt Hammer Lassen, has opened in the city’s Pudong district. As one of the largest new libraries in the world, more than 80% of the 115,000 sq m building’s space is dedicated to community activity, in an overall design inspired by ancient Chinese scholars’ tablets called Taihu stones. 

The project is conceived as a singular monolithic object floating above the tree canopy within the surrounding Century Park. The main library volume is situated above two pavilions housing a 1200-seat performance venue, exhibition and events space, together with a dedicated children’s library, which will open up towards a series of landscaped courtyards and gardens. The library volume is carved and twisted to reflect the surrounding park and sky, and continuously clad in a facade of clear, insulated and fritted glass. 

On the main level, a central atrium welcomes guests into a vast yet warm atmosphere of bamboo, oak, and terrazzo. Overhead, the floors stack and interlock, in a design strategy to visually connect each of the library’s seven levels. Local artists were integral to the design process, with ten artists from China and abroad creating site-specific installations intended to inspire readers, encourage communication, and celebrate knowledge.

Although it houses 4.8 million books, Shanghai East will also host more than 1,200 lectures, seminars, performances, events, and hands-on activities for upward of 4 million visitors annually. The building’s primary function as a centre of art, culture, and technology-driven learning reflects the rapidly-changing uses of the modern library. At the same time, its allusion to classical Chinese scholarship in the the building’s form anchors it in tradition. Chris Hardie, design director for Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Shanghai studio, stated: “This important cultural centre for the citizens of Shanghai embraces the idea of ‘collection to connection’—a space to bring people together. It’s the city’s gift to them.”

Lucy Nordberg
Tenderstream Head of Research

This tender was first published by Tenderstream on 26.06.2017 here

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