Bishan Public Library / LOOK Architects

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

Architect: LOOK Architects 
Location: 5 ,
Site Area: 1400.30 sqm
Client: National Library Board, Singapore
Structural Engineer: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Mechanicalme &Electrical Engineer: Meinhardt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Quantity surveyor: BEC Consultants
Completion: 2006
Photographs: Patrick Bingham-Hall, Tim Nolan


© Patrick Bingham-Hall

The metaphor of a tree house was invoked from the onset of design conceptualization to create an environment for learning via a journey of discovery and play. The use of skylights, trellises and colored glass transforms incoming daylight into a myriad of shades and colours, creating an intriguing dappled light quality within the library that simulates light filtered through the foliage of trees. ‘Pods’ cantilevered off the main building façade exude a distinctive charisma on the exterior and create suspended alcoves at an intimate scale from the building interior. The library is raised above the anonymity of its mixed used neighborhood and sets out to stir the curiosity of the community.

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

Conflicting requirements – view orientation, solar control and regulation of unprotected openings mandated by the statutory fire safety code – were satisfied by a highly rationalised spatial strategy. An internal atrium was incorporated to introduce natural daylight deep into the main circulation zone, as well as most of the library floors, and the back-of-house was concentrated as a solid core on the western elevation that also serves to shield the building from the harsh evening sun. A gently sloping ramp leads people from the street level up to the collection zone through the atrium and also acts as an efficient discharge route for large crowds.

© Patrick Bingham-Hall

Responding to a highly constricted urban site amidst a mature satellite town, the design answers demands for an efficient construction method that minimises impact on its surroundings. Insitu concrete structure comprising four typical floor slabs over a basement are linked by a common lift and staircase core, and internal columns are kept to a minimum through the use of post-tensioned floor slabs, effectively maximising floor area and increasing flexibility of collection storage. Exploiting its potential of noise segregation, the basement was designed to house the children’s section, defining a subterranean cavern-like realm where imagination can run free.

© Tim Nolan

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Cite: "Bishan Public Library / LOOK Architects" 22 Feb 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Sep 2014. <>


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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      Tips for Idiots:

      If you’ve already seen a project, you don’t have to click on it. Chances are, there are plenty of other projects on this website that you have not seen.

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    “This proves that modern innovation exploit the pleasure of living.Creating a more convenient, yet elegant structures such as those.I wish someday i would be a part of these aesthetic changes.”

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    What happens on the roof? Looks like a lofted ceiling, but is there a gathering/conference area up there too? Would seem to be a waste if it’s not used.

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    Not so convinced of the interior of the atrium. Space feels to small en too dark, made more intense by the oppressive roof.

    And why no easy chair of descent private workspace in the boxes? Feels all a bit too cheesy.

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