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In 2008, BIG were awarded first place in an international competition for the design of the new National Library of Kazakhstan. Their scheme, setting precedents for motifs explored in their 2010 Danish Pavilion, incorporates a Möbius strip with a perfect circle to create a design both contemporary and rational.

Arch2o-National Library of Kazakhstan-BIG (29)

Courtesy of BIG

It is nice to see studios who take ideas and push them, reiterate and reiterate, seeking to squeeze something new out of it each time. BIG is certainly one of those firms. The work also won the 2009 Cityscape Dubai Award. Below is a further description provided by the architects…

Arch2o-National Library of Kazakhstan-BIG (30)

Courtesy of BIG

The new National Library, named after the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, encompasses an estimated 33.000m2. 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 ANL_ElevationsCourtesy of BIG

The design was hailed as being both modern and rational and anchored in a classical vocabulary of traditional libraries. The circular organization of the archive at its inner core combines the clarity of a linear organization with the convenience of an infinite loop.

Arch2o-National Library of Kazakhstan-BIG (51)Courtesy of BIG

Being one of the future cornerstones of Kazakh nation building, and a leading institution representing the Kazakh national identity, designing the library went beyond a mere architectural challenge. The new National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan’s new capital since 1997, shall not only accumulate history but also provide a foundation for new futures for the nation and its new capital.


Courtesy of BIG

 It will serve as an intellectual, multifunctional and cultural center, with a primary goal of reflecting the establishment and development of a sovereign Kazakhstan, its political history, and the Head of the State’s activities and role in the development of the country.

Arch2o-National Library of Kazakhstan-BIG (1)

Courtesy of BIG

The National Library will be the place where the citizens of Astana, the people of Kazakhstan as well as international visitors can come to explore the country’s history, its diverse cultures, its new capital and its first president. The Library will accommodate and communicate with all segments of the population: civil servants, politicians, researchers, students, museum historians and staff. The Library is conceived as a symbiosis of urbanity and nature.


Courtesy of BIG

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 library is designed like a living library of trees, plants, minerals and rocks allowing visitors to experience a cross section of Kazakhstan’s natural landscape, and personally experience the capital’s transition across the country from Almaty to Astana.

Courtesy of BIG

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