preston scott cohen: datong library under construction in china preston scott cohen: datong library under construction in china
apr 19, 2013

preston scott cohen: datong library under construction in china

‘datong library’ by preston scott cohen, datong, shanxi province, china image © preston scott cohen all images courtesy of preston scott cohen



organized by a four-storey helical ramp lined with bookshelves and study carrels, preston scott cohen‘s design for the ‘datong library’ in china seeks to mediate the tension between the two major roles of a central library using dynamic spaces and progressive circulation. a main library serves as both a community center and an intellectual archive for individual study. these two programs are resolved with a garden courtyard around which classrooms, a gallery, informal meeting rooms and an auditorium are arrayed. while the grand architectural gesture is the ‘book ramp’ which ties four floors-worth of printed volumes together, the circuitous interior is perhaps best expressed in the intricately tiled exterior. software intended for use in aircraft design was used to realize a complex skin that allows the envelope to visually compress and expand so as to best express the dramatically soaring tectonic form. some of the facets are clad with glazed tiles, which allowinterior spaces to be generously awash with daylight. 




the complex tiled skin helps articulate the faceted form image © preston scott cohen



the dynamic exterior hints at the ramps network within image © preston scott cohen



staggered ‘book ramps’ characterize the interiors image © preston scott cohen



quiet study spaces make their way into the light-filled program image © preston scott cohen



the building is both a departure from and reflection of the landscape image © preston scott cohen



circulation and approach was a central concern for the designimage © preston scott cohen



dusk views of the atrium and walkways image © preston scott cohen




the skeleton of the building image © preston scott cohen



construction view of structure image © preston scott cohen



in progress column viewimage © preston scott cohen



the structure behind the facets image © preston scott cohen



in-progress view of the book ramp and atrium image © preston scott cohen



structural beams image © preston scott cohen



cladding begins image © preston scott cohen



the skin alternates glazing and tiles image © preston scott cohen



the architect during an on-site visit image © preston scott cohen



light reflects off of the facets during construction image © preston scott cohen



site view image © preston scott cohen






project info:


client: datong city governmenttotal area: 20,000 m2project schedule: design– 2009-2010; construction– 2011-2013project team: preston scott cohen, inc., cambridge, ma; preston scott cohen (architectural design); amit nemlich (project architect)matthew allen, carl d’apolito-dworkin, collin gardner, michelle chang, juan jofre, mary stuckert, janna kauss (project assistants)

  • nice… but i don´t understand why people put so much money in the facade while the main task to bring the people/kids knowledge in a library still looks like in the 70ties… bookshelfs… bookshelfs… the “i-library” of present and future has to look different… its not the cover of a book which impress… its the content 😉

    ds says:
  • The promise of computation in architecture is not that we can represent and fabricate such wasteful and tortured structures to support our Rhino (or whatever) derived forms, but to advance materials and factory fabrication to the point that skin and structure become integral composites serving thermal gradient, power and ventilation as well, to name only a few.

    The look is avant, but the soul is as old school as they come, massive spaceframe notwithstanding.
    The interesting thing is, we do have the technology. Do we lack imagination or money at this point?

    Michael Jackson says:

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