BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan
aug 26, 2009
BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan

the new national library astana, kazakhstan by BIG architects
all images courtesy BIG architects




BIG architects have been awarded first prize in an open international competition to design kazakhstan’s new national library in astana. named after the first president of the republic, nursultan nazarbayev, the building is set to encompass an estimated 33.000 m2. the winning proposal was chosen by the prime minister of kazakhstan k. masimov together with astana’s akim I.tasmagambetov and a council of architects.


the library is organized as a twisting infinite loop



the circular organization of the archive at the library’s inner core combines the clarity of a linear arrangement through a twisting infinite loop. the library is conceived as a symbiosis of urbanity and nature. like astana, which is located in the heart of the kazakh mainland, it will be integrated into the heart of a re-created kazakh landscape. the park around the building is designed like a living  green space, planted with trees, plants, minerals and rocks, allowing visitors to experience a small slice of the country’s natural landscape.


the surrounding area will be planted with local flora and fauna



‘the design of the national library combines four universal archetypes across space and time into a new national symbol: the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt are merged into the form of a moebius strip. the clarity of the circle, the courtyard of the rotunda, the gateway of the arch and the soft silhouette of the yurt are combined to create a new national monument appearing local and universal, contemporary and timeless, unique and archetypal at the same time‘ – bjarke ingels


internal communal spaces


reading and resting areas


view of the open space




model aerial view


model profile








the two interlocking structures: the perfect circle and the public spiral, create a building that transforms from a horizontal organization — where library museum and support functions are placed next to each other — to a vertical organization where they are stacked on top of each other through a diagonal organization, thus combining vertical hierarchy, horizontal connectivity and diagonal view lines. by wrapping the transforming composition of spaces with a continuous skin a möbius strip volume is formed where the façades move from inside to outside and back again.



diagram of the twisting skin












project info:

architect: bjarke ingles / BIG architects
client: kazakhstan presidential office
collaborators: arup agu
size: 33.000 m2
location: astana, kazakhstan
status: 1st prize
partner-in-charge: bjarke ingels
project leader: thomas christoffersen
team: amy campbell, jakob henke, johan cool, jonas barre, daniel sundlin

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