Nowadays, as books cease to be the primary carrier for the transfer of knowledge, the meaning of “The Library” is also shifting. Recognizing this, the design not only incorporates the conventional programs of libraries, but also attempts to excavate what is embedded in libraries--the public nature that is closely associated with today’s society.
Located at core of the campus, the library features a slightly curved façade, maintaining a humble stance towards its surroundings. Students and teaching staff who commute between the academic area and the living area on a daily basis will always pass by the library, regardless of which direction they are heading. Such circulation gives rise to a corridor system that crisscrosses throughout the building, referencing the traditional Cantonese commercial arcade adapted to hot and rainy climates, attracting the public to walk to the inside. Along the north-south corridor are the public programs, including the main entrance lobby, academic auditorium, association activity room, book bar, and so forth. The corridor on the second floor extends from the west to the east—it passes by the book bar, skylight, multi-function hall, bamboo garden, reading area, semi-outdoor platform, and then finally ends at the Baishu Garden on the east. Overlapping circulation allows people to meet and communicate with each other; they can stop by to read or participate in academic activities, which will naturally become a part of their daily life. These create opportunities for a physical library to become more lively and inviting than a virtual library. On the top floor, 3,800 square meters of clear space serves an open-shelf reading area. In order to facilitate the role exchange between the modularized book collection area and the reading area, the structural load of this floor is customized for book collection areas; the column span is unified as 8,400*10,800mm.
GRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete) was originally specified for the library façade. With the consideration of façade scale, structural load, sizes of fabricated structural components, local shading requirement, and other factors, the GRC unitized component was designed into a light and high-strength hollow module that had a dimension of 1,800*675*400mm; its hollow core was then filled with insulating materials, with mold release and curing treatment. Due to various reasons, the client requested the material to be changed before construction. Eventually, silver grey, semi-unitized aluminum modules were assembled together in a staggered fashion. The aluminum modules were both water-proof and sunlight resistant, and were assembled following the original approach. For the crisscrossing corridors, orange high-strength fiber cement boards were applied to the ceiling and the wall. The orange color extends from the outdoor public space to the indoor public area, inviting people at the corridors to enter the building.
Urbanus is recognized as one of the most influential architecture practices in China. The design work of Urbanus ranges from cultural, educational, civic and residential projects and public spaces, cultural industry park to urban design projects, including large-scale urban complexes and renovations of existing urban areas. Many works have become new landmarks of urban life. The projects have received numerous prominent awards, and have been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally.