Nature & Knowledge

Client: Songdo City

Program: Library

Size: 86,000 SqFt

Completion Date: 2021

Material: Concrete, Glass, Steel, Ceramic

Architect: Baumgartner + Uriu, llp

Team: Garrett Sutherlin Santo, Nourah AlBanaw, Stella Buckmann, Aiden Ko, Gregory Kokkotis, Erin Light

Nature & Knowledge
A Library for the Future

The library as a type has evolved over time from a “temple of knowledge” into its modern form as a public institution where books are no longer chained, literally or metaphorically, to the space that houses them. Contemporary libraries, however, are complex structures that have defied cultural expectations and evolved to integrate an expanding array of media collections and spaces for civic and democratic exchange- the library became an “urban living room”.

Our design for the Songdo Library is imagining how the library of the future can transform yet again and is inspired by the idea of merging nature, technology and knowledge into a new experience for the Songdo library users. Our proposal pulls the wild into the library by transforming its spaces and reading rooms into artificial landscapes through materiality, color and spatial transitions that blur the edges between inside and outside.

The massing of our library design consists of three large free flowing volumes hovering above an open glass enclosed ground floor plan. These large masses remind of blocks of stone cut and cut again in a quarry, they are loosely fitted together like large puzzle pieces and are clad in a colorful terracotta envelope that performs as an external shading device and climate control for the glass curtainwall behind.

We worked with images of natural terrain and transformed them through an AI neuro network into new synthetic landscapes. These artificial landscapes create different environments, textures and spaces for reading, socializing, connecting and an array of digital medias that will become the future of the library including spaces for virtual and augmented realty and immersive digital environments.

The colors and tectonic design of the envelope and interiors have been derived from these AI generated landscapes. The cracks between the masses become informal outdoor reading spaces. At the center of the library massing is a vertical civic space, the bookstacks tower that visually connects to the park through a large window. Inspired by Indian water well’s the book stacks inside are stepped around this large void which is filled with wild artificial plants and flowers.