The Datong Library according to the architects is a proposition, which seeks to resolve the tension between the two traditional roles of a library; the role of being a storehouse of knowledge and that of a community focal point. The resulting form of the building therefore brings to the fore this tension, centering on dynamic spaces and progressive circulation. Below are exerpts from the description provided by the architects.
At the heart of the spaces of public promenade is a garden courtyard, around which classrooms, a gallery, informal reading rooms, and an auditorium are arrayed. The symmetrical pair of the courtyard, an expansive atrium, ties four floors of book stacks together. The atrium is surrounded by a continuous, four-storey helical ramp lined with bookshelves and study carrels. Besides perceptually tying the stack and reading areas together, the book ramp represents a typological advance in library design inspired by Asplund’s Stockholm Library.
Cutting-edge parametric software originally intended for use in aircraft design was used from the project’s inception, allowing the building form to retain its essential relational properties while allowing the precise shape to be changed rapidly and dramatically without requiring substantial redesign. This proved to be invaluable throughout design development: not only was the masterplan changed – along with important site constraints – but the program underwent substantial revision through meetings with the projects stakeholders.
Client: Datong city government
total area: 20,000 m2
project schedule: design– 2009-2010; construction– 2011-2013
project 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)