Tag Archives: Tianjin Binhai Public Library

China Opens World’s Coolest Library With 1.2 Million Books, And Its Interior Will Take Your Breath Away

Nobody likes to be watched while they’re trying to read a book, but we’re willing to make an exception if it means getting to visit this stunning new library in China, because as you can see below, the incredible structure has a giant spherical auditorium in the middle that looks just like a giant eye.

Located in the Binhai Cultural District In Tianjin, the five-story library, which was designed by Dutch design firm MVRDV in collaboration with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI) and has since been dubbed “The Eye of Binhai”, covers 34,000 square metres and can hold up to 1.2 million books. Taking just three years to complete, the library features a reading area on the ground floor, lounge areas in the middle sections and offices, meeting spaces, and computer/audio rooms at the top. We’re not sure how much studying we’d get done though – we’d be far too busy marveling at the awesome architecture!

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about the endlessly creative MVRDV. Click here to read about their giant scaffold staircase and here for their beautiful market hall in Rotterdam.

Update: Turns out, most of these futuristic-looking floor to ceiling shelves are painted to look like they’re full of books, but in reality, much of the covers in the hall are printed images. The real books are stored in other rooms in the building.












MVRDV completes library shaped like a giant eye in Chinese city Tianjin

India Block | 4 November 2017 49 comments

Tianjin Binhai Public Library in Tianjin, China


Dutch firm MVRDV has built a public library that looks like a huge eye, as part of a new cultural district in Tianjin, China.

The atrium of the Tianjin Binhai Public Library is deliberately designed to look like a 3D eyeball, staring out through the building’s glazed facade.


The five-storey-high space is framed by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, which are staggered at different levels to form the shape of an eye socket, while a spherical glowing auditorium at the centre forms the pupil.


The curving lines of the shelves provide areas where visitors can sit and read, and observe others doing the same. They also continue out across the glass facade, forming louvres that deflect the glare of the sun.

Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, described the finished interior as “almost cave-like, a continuous bookshelf”.


“We opened the building by creating a beautiful public space inside; a new urban living room is its centre,” he said.

“The bookshelves are great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors. The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing. Together they form the ‘eye’ of the building: to see and be seen.”


MVRDV first revealed its designs for the Tianjin Binhai Public Library in June 2016, when construction was already well underway. It is one of five buildings commissioned by the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute to form a new cultural centre for the Binhai district of the coastal city.


The masterplan for the area was set by German firm GMP – and MVRDV found it a struggle to fit the entire programme into the allotted space. It was this that led the team to create the spherical auditorium at the centre.

“Not being able to touch the building’s volume we ‘rolled’ the ball shaped auditorium demanded by the brief into the building and the building simply made space for it,” said Maas.


The 33,700-square-metre building is the Dutch firm’s fastest project completion to date – with a period of just three years between the first sketch and the opening ceremony.

Fast-tracking the process caused a few design headaches. The upper shelves directly above the atrium are currently unreachable, after planned access rooms were dropped – a decision MVRDV said was taken by the local team against their advice.


As a result, these shelves are covered in perforated aluminium plates that printed to look like books. They are cleaned using a system of moveable scaffolding and ropes.

The firm said they hoped that their “full vision for the library may be realised in the future”.


The library also houses education facilities, which are located around the periphery of the interior and accessed via the main hall. Subterranean rooms hold a large archive and provide extra book storage.

Reading areas for children and the elderly are located on the ground floor, with reading rooms and lounge areas on the first and second floors. The upper floors contain meeting rooms, offices, computer rooms and two rooftop terraces.


Tianjin Binhai Public Library sits alongside building a new exhibition centre by GMP, as well as other cultural buildings by Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects and HH Design. All five are connected by a public corridor sheltered beneath a glass canopy.

Based in Rotterdam, MVRDV is led by Maas along with architects Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries.


Maas was one of three ambassadors at Dutch Design Week last month, along with Dezeen founder Marcus Fairs. During the event, Maas presented a concept for a colourful, futuristic hotel and also launched a book arguing that architects and designers shouldn’t be afraid to copy from each other.

Called Copy Paste: The Badass Architectural Copy Guide, the book offers a significant contrast to this project – arguing that the industry should take inspiration from science, where practitioners build upon previous work to make new breakthroughs, rather than constantly striving to remake the wheel.

Eye-like library by MVRDV nears completion in China

Eleanor Gibson | 23 June 2016 8 comments

Tianjin Binhai Public Library in Tianjin, China


Dutch firm MVRDV has revealed its designs for a library with an eye-shaped atrium, which is nearing completion in Tianjin, China (+ slideshow).

The Tianjin Binhai Library will encompass 34,200 square metres of total floor space. It will have a rectilinear body, but at its centre will be an oval-shaped atrium with a spherical, mirrored auditorium.

MVRDV designed this space to look like an eye when viewed through the building’s glazed walls.


Library in China by MVRDV
Library books will be located in terraced shelves that look like the contours of a topographical landscape. They will wind up and around the oval-shaped atrium and continue around the building, doubling up as louvres to restrict daylight coming in through the glass facades.

At the centre of the space, the spherical auditorium will reflect the interiors, as well as the park outside.


“The Eye is the centre of the library,” said MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. “It hollows out the building and creates, out of bookshelves, an environment to sit, to read, to hang out, to climb and to access, to create an organic social space.”

“In its heart is the auditorium which mirrors the environment, giving a 360-degree panorama of the space inside; a truly reflective and pensive environment.”


The Rotterdam-based studio designed the library in collaboration with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI). It forms part of the Tianjin New Binhai masterplan, which was designed by German firm GMP.

Located outside of central Tianjin, the fourth most-populous city in the country, the masterplan occupies a 120,000-square-metre site. It aims to transform the coastal industrial zone and former port into a new centre of commerce.


The five-storey library building will accommodate a programme of educational facilities. Along with the auditorium, the ground floor will offer reading areas for children and the elderly.

On the first and second floor will be reading rooms, more bookshelves and lounge areas, while meeting rooms, offices, computer rooms and audio rooms will be located on the fourth and fifth floors.

Book storage, an archive and service spaces are placed in the subterranean level.


The Tianjin New Binhai masterplan will feature a mix of high-rise buildings, historic neighbourhoods and open spaces, along with a high-speed train that will run between the district and Beijing.

MVRDV’s building will sit alongside a new exhibition centre by GMP, as well as other cultural buildings by Bernard Tschumi Architects, Bing Thom Architects and HH Design.

The Tianjin Binhai Library is due to open to the public mid-2017 and will be MVRDV’s second project to complete in Tianjin. The firm’s TEDA Urban Fabric finished in 2009, providing 280,000 square metres of housing and retail.

Winy Maas co-founded Rotterdam-based MVRDV in 1993 with Nathalie de Vries and Jacob van Rijs. The firm’s completed projects include a library contained within a glass pyramid and a transparent interior for Hong Kong office block.