Shanghai Children’s Library

Shanghai/ China

Size/ 16,000 m²
Competition/ 2017, International competition
Status/ Proposal
Client/ Shanghai Children’s Library
Landscape Architect/ SLA
Engineer/ SBP
Visuals/ Plankton

The Shanghai Children’s Library is more than a building. It is designed as a tool that contributes to the progress of childhood development from dependency, to increased autonomy, to independent individuality. Located in the Children’s Library Park, the 16,000-square-metre library is organized by function into five complementary areas that each comprise an enclosed space to ensure functional clarity and a connection to the airy atrium to facilitate open, collaborative learning.

Formerly an industrial area, the site has been redeveloped into a vibrant park for local citizens.

The masterplan accompanying the library is based on the introduction of a “knowledge loop,” which is designed to unify the green areas to create the Children’s Library Park.

The library's facade expresses the simplicity and texture of the reinforced concrete. Large windows within the vertical surfaces of the building not only control light into the reading and activity spaces, but also allow views into the natural landscape of the Children’s Library Park.

The five volumes are home to primary programs including an activity area that holds an auditorium and exhibition spaces; a reading area for preschool, elementary school and middle school children; and operational spaces that include administrative offices.

A boardwalk along the adjacent lake provide an extension from the interior to the outside.

To take advantage of its unique site, the library features large windows that offer an open view towards the natural landscape of the surrounding Children’s Library Park, as well as a new waterfront public space for children to discover new aquatic plants and flowers.

Spanning the large atrium is the “Discovery Path,” a continuous stair system dotted with platform spaces that connects the five volumes. The Discovery Path encourages chance discovery and allows children to observe and learn from their peers.

The library building design employs the principle of passive design to optimize the needs of natural ventilation and lighting, the basis for a green building. Moreover, operable windows allow tempered air cooled from the adjacent lake to flow through the building to reduce mechanical ventilation. Rainwater collection will allow the use of gray water for irrigation and plumbing use.

The “knowledge loop” is a pathway with high and low areas providing different landscape environments which include a lakefront and riverfront areas, a yacht club, plaza and play area fostering interaction and contemplation.

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