New South Korean Library Emphasizes Design As Much As Literature

Courtesy H-O-TT Architecture

The concept creates a sacred space for the sharing of ideas.

Although they have a certain ambiance, libraries can often be dark places and a maze of nooks. But a proposal for a public library in Incheon, South Korea, is the complete opposite. The modern circular design lets light pour into wide-open spaces, making it feel like a majestic spacecraft.

Exterior of between hills and clouds lies for Songdo International City Library
Courtesy H-O-TT Architecture

Architecture firm H-O-TT submitted the design explaining that the goal was to blend two distinct landscapes—hills and clouds—into one. The result is a building shaped like a ring situated on top of green space with diverse topography that encourages visitors to gather and unwind.

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Aerial of between hills and clouds lies for Songdo International City Library
Courtesy H-O-TT Architecture

In fact, everything about the design is intentional to connect people to each other and nature. You can lounge or walk on the grass under the massive structure where the mirrored underside reflects the green below. It feels as if you are enveloped in nature in the heart of the city. The meandering is further encouraged with the rooftop top walking paths that wind around the central garden with towering trees.

Interior of between hills and clouds lies for Songdo International City Library
Courtesy H-O-TT Architecture

Inside follows a similar vibe with a neutral color palette that reflects the light pouring in from the floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights. Soaring shelves are filled with books that add yet another whimsical element to the design. Plus, circular-shaped furniture and interior seating areas enhance the rounded exterior shape, which is all about promoting exploration. People are encouraged to explore the grounds, the books and come together to discuss new topics.

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While activity—discussions, readings, and meetings—are paramount, so too is decompressing. Much like the hills and the clouds, the designers aimed for the space to be on that is both active and passive. The public can look at the library as a meeting space and a refuge in the busy city. Striking this balance in one building is certainly no easy feat, but it makes for an incredibly unique destination when achieved.