BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan
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.


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanthe 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.


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanthe 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


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstaninternal communal spaces


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanreading and resting areas


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanview of the open space


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanapproach


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanmodel aerial view


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanmodel profile


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan



BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan



BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstan



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.



BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstandiagram of the twisting skin


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstandiagram


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstanplan


BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstansection



BIG: new national library in astana, kazakhstansection



project info:

architect: bjarke ingles / BIG architectsclient: 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

  • is nice. i like. hi five!

    Borat Sagdiyev. says:
  • Isn’t it the same concept of the danish pavillion in Shangai (also by BIG)?
    One “size” fits all?

    Pedro says:
  • Super nice!

    CMYK says:
  • nice that guy think like a fuc%&$g insane!!!

    Atilio says:
  • I like the idea that the spiral goes around the circle.

    nice shape, good idea

    mmm says:
  • pathetic!

    rem koolhaas says:
  • Beautiful !! The world of today leaving marks for the future.
    Very good!

    Mile says:
  • Very nice.

    Tapa says:
  • [Borat accent] : It’s a niice! Almost like vagine of my fourth wife.

    borat says:
  • boring

    pr says:
  • it’s a really nice form and looks beautiful but feels like spaces are not that exciting.

    i like the fact that the facade looks similar with Seattle Public Library :p it’s like a family of libraries all around the world :)) one beautifuly ugly, one beautifuly beautiful.

    i feel like the floorplates could’ve been more interesting, more than just “contour, 3000mm” in rhino?!

    hope i will be wrong when it’s built and it will have nicer spaces than these representations. right now it feels a little bit like an airport to me.

    first image shows a little bit transparency, i’m hoping that kind of suprises with daylight!

    yes it's big says:
  • amazing

    Alex says:
  • Very Smart Design..!!

    Ray says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
504,241 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine