gmp wins competition for new Suzhou library building in China
Fully automated high-bay storage for seven million books – a unique facility in China; opening scheduled for 2017
Suzhou Library Building in China.

Courtesy of gmp Architects

Courtesy of gmp Architects

The architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) have won the design competition for the new construction of the Suzhou Library in China. The start of construction has been scheduled for 2016 and the opening of the complex for the end of 2017.

“Suzhou Library” will be built in Xiangcheng Town, an area featuring impressive artificial lakes and watercourses and a diverse range of urban functions, currently being developed to the north of the historic Suzhou city center with its many canals.

Courtesy of gmp Architects

Courtesy of gmp Architects

The new library building on a site next to one of these extended watercourses is intended to provide the traditional library functions as well as other public functions, such as a cinema and exhibition rooms, and an above-ground storage facility for 7 million books. With an area of 6,500 sqm and a clear story height of 15 m, this fully automated high-bay storage facility – the first of its kind in China – occupies a large volume in the overall building complex, which has a total area of 32,000 sqm.

Courtesy of gmp Architects

Courtesy of gmp Architects

The design is determined on the one hand by external conditions – the narrow site and the need for open spaces – and on the other hand by the idea of creating, on a symbolic level, an architectural analogy to a slanted pile of books. The design reflects the external conditions with a cantilevering form of building while producing very compact volumes with the superimposed functions. This creates a building ensemble that not only extends the public space to an inner plaza, but also ensures the clear separation and organization of the different functions and entrances.

By contrast to the first floor level, the area of which has been minimized and arranged to run parallel to the street, the upper stories are more expansive and twist towards the view to the landscape. This defines the skewed level of the library façade, which features strong horizontal divisions and bright aluminum shading louvres – resembling the appearance of a slanted pile of paper documents or books. The closed façade of the book storage facility has been designed with horizontal texturing and is separated from the superimposed functions by a recessed glass façade with surrounding terrace.

Courtesy of gmp Architects

Courtesy of gmp Architects

Project Info:
Architect: gmp Architects
Location: Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Design: Meinhard von Gerkan and Nikolaus Goetze with Magdalene White
Project Management: Yan Lüji, Kong Buhong
Competition Design Team: Martin Friedrich, Kong Buhong, Pan Mei Ren Peiying, Fabian Schlitt, Kan Lijing, Mustafa Obaid, Wang Yiqun, Zhang Bowei
Detailed design team: Bai Yunjie, Martin Friedrich, Kong Buhong, Li Chen, Pan Mei, Yan Lüji, Yao Yao
Structural design (concept): Schlaich Bergermann and Partners, Sven Plieninger
Landscape design: WES GmbH, Michael Kaschke
Client: Suzhou Library
Photographs: Willmore CG, gmp
GFA aboveground: 32,000 sqm
GFA below ground: 10.000 sqm
Total GFA: 42,000 sqm

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