National Library of China

Beijing
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Photo © Hans Schlupp
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Drawing © Jürgen Engel Zimmermann
Architects
KSP ENGEL
Location
Beijing
Year
2008
Client
National Library of China

After almost four years under construction, the National Library of China in Beijing has been officially dedicated on Tuesday, 9 September 2008. KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten was awarded the bid among contestants taking part in the bidding competition in 2003. The task to be fulfilled was to expand the existing library by adding a second tract to the building with a total space of 80,000 m2 that was to house 12 million books. The existing old building that is protected as a historic monument is to stay intact and will only be attached to the new tract using light bridges. An important trend - setting component included in the expansion is the “digital library”. The “Si Ku Quan Shu” collection is of historic significance and culturally not to be surpassed, and will also be housed in the new building.

By means of a contemporary interpretation, the design for the National Library of China takes up traditional Chinese architectural components. Building foundations, the placement of pillars and a floating ceiling are style elements used in Chinese building history, which were typically reserved for the most significant, for the most part public buildings. The new construction will tie into the past, present and future not only by its architectural design, but also in terms of its content. The concept reverts back to the historic “Si Ku Quan Shu” scrolls written by Emperor Quianlong (1736 - 1795).

The collection is visible from every direction and is housed in a glass shrine in the base of the building. Surrounding these is the contemporary library built up over several levels encompassing a reading room that is flooded by large amounts of light. One enters the library located in the gap between the base and the ceiling by climbing a wide flight of steps. From here, one has an overview of the entire library below the wide stretching steel construction that makes up the roof, in which the digital library is housed.

In October 2006, as a part of a ceremonious event, the steel construction weighting 10,388 tons of the National Library of China in Peking was hoisted. This amount of weight is approximately equal to the weight of the Eifel Tower in Paris. In order to optimise construction, work was first begun on the steel construction for the upper floor, which was built at ground level. Once mounting was completed, the building pit below the steel construction was excavated and the basement floors and the cores of the building extending up to the fifth floor were built. At these cores, the steel construction was hoisted to its final height of 16.25 metres using 24 computercontrolled access points.

The steel structure with dimensions from 120 to 105 m and a height of 10 m takes up two library floors today now that it has been completed. After the steel construction was hoisted, the aboveground base storeys of the library were built as raw brickwork and the entire building was completed in the fitting out phase.

Floor area
80,000 sqm

Completion
07/2008

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