Mecanoo architecten and MAYU architects+ have won a competition to design the new Tainan Public Library in Taiwan. Their winning design "represents the meeting of cultures, generations and histories," says the architects. It will feature an inverted stepped facade that houses reading rooms, special collections, study spaces, a children’s area, café, conference hall, a 200-seat auditorium, and public courtyards.
From the architects: Tainan is a city born from a history of diverse cultures, peoples and traditions. The urban fabric holds memories from the 17th century European maritime trading, the Qing Dynasty Ruling, and the Japanese settlement of the early 1900s. On top of its rich history, modern Tainan is developing as a central city in the knowledge-based economy. The Public Library is about Tainan’s evolving relationship with its past and the direction towards its future.
Mecanoo and MAYU’s design for the Tainan Public Library represents the meeting of cultures, generations and histories. Natural materials, like stone and wood, rational yet elegant structural lines and a sensitive use of light characterise the building’s timeless design.
Reaching up into the sky, the building’s perimeter increases on each level. The result is a large canopy that provides shade to the transparent stepped facade and below-grade courtyards.
Around the perimeter of the Lower Ground Floor is an outdoor children’s play area. A floor-to-ceiling glazed wall creates a visual connection between the play area and indoor children’s reading room. A sunken plaza on the same level is a multifunctional outdoor space for hosting talks, exhibitions or social gatherings. With a café adjacent, it is designed as a social destination for curious minds, creating a peaceful space for reading, group work, or socializing.
The entrance hall rises three levels to show the library’s internal configuration and the layering of floors. The wooden fenestration filters daylight, creating a rhythmic pattern of light on the stone floor. Curvaceous stairwells show the dynamic flow of people through the building. The generous open-plan spaces ensure the library can adapt to future needs.
On the top floor, a delicate second skin is wrapped around the building, filtering the light and reducing solar heat gain. An ancient map of Tainan is transposed onto vertical louvres and represents the city’s evolving relationship with its past and the direction towards its future.
The 35,000-square-meter building is also designed to include a 13,000-square-meter extension. It is expected to complete at the end of 2018.