Text description provided by the architects. The Tsinghua University Library is a landmark building on the Tsinghua University campus. It was initially designed by American architect Henry Murphy, and the construction was completed in 1919, followed by two extensions: the second phase of construction designed by Yang Tingbao in 1930s, and the third phase of construction designed by Guan Zhaoye in 1980s.
This project is the fourth phase of extension of the library complex, located in the core area of the campus. The library embodies the continuance of the historical context of the University. It also addresses the need for development in regards to teaching and academic disciplines. The design exemplifies the architectural approach to fulfilling the historical and functional significance of the library.
The new extension and the existing building are interconnected as an organic whole. The exterior wall of the fourth-floor indents and then extends downward to form the interior wall for the first 3 floors. This interior wall serves as a partition between the inner space and the peripheral areas, whereas the circulation in-between is enabled via openings in the wall. The inner space enclosed by this wall is a collection-reading area, which is typical of academic libraries. The peripheral areas scattering between the interior wall and the exterior wall are for more public function such as traffic space, leisure activities, reading and so on, making it a more interactive transition to the outdoor landscape.
The main body of the building reduces in shape floor by floor from the top, which brings a horizontally two-layered nested structure of the inner and peripheral space. This design philosophy is fully reflected on the elevations of the building. Behind the three-storey-high transparent façade stands a solid four-storey-high wall which keeps a spatial balance between separation and interconnection. When the lights are on, the layered spatial arrangement is spotlighted against the dark of the night. The structured red-brick, the extensive glass curtain wall, and the abstract handling of details are all a part of the efforts to make the new extension a coordinated but also a more contemporarily characterized part of the existing library.
The design is very representative of the trends in university library development today. Function-wise, the library is diversified with newly added exhibition hall, café, bookstore, group discussion space, study rooms, ancient books restoration area, etc. to make up for the limitations of only having reading rooms in the library. Several public spaces stretching across different floors are designed to increase interconnectivity and circulation between indoor and outdoor space.