The design of the Shanghai Library East embraces the idea of ‘from collection to connection’ – it is a space to bring people together, a gift from the city to its citizens. While housing an impressive corpus of 4.8 m books, the majority of the space within the library is dedicated to community activities. The flexible, open environment of interconnected spaces allows for a wide range of activities that encourage interaction and foster connectivity among users. The Shanghai Library East offers a dynamic physical framework for events, lectures, seminars, performances, and exhibitions as well as hands-on activities to cater to a diverse range of users.
Libraries have long formed the backbone of many communities, acting as a third space between the home and workplace. The Shanghai Library East is part of the new generation of smart hybrid libraries, which, in addition to providing spaces for borrowing and reading books, also provide spaces for social interaction around art and culture.
To foster appreciation of cultural heritage and a strong sense of ownership and belonging, installation art was incorporated into the design of the library from the very beginning. The public artwork programme was curated by the international arts organisation UAP (Urban Art Projects) and rooted in the theme ‘Mediums: The Development of Writing’. Ten artists, both from China and abroad, were invited to contribute their own unique works of art, with the aim of inspiring readers, encouraging communication, and celebrating knowledge.
As a major cultural facility in the world’s third most populous city, and an estimate of 4 million guests annually, the Shanghai Library East holds a significant position as a social and cultural gathering point. Through its aesthetics, functionality, cultural and ecological ambition, it is an accessible canvas for global visitors and local citizens to fill with life and culture.