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International Competition for Library; SONGDO International City, S. Korea



As guardians of information, libraries have always existed beyond the realms of space and time, connecting thoughts and experiences of the past with the present. Libraries are eternal hallmarks of civilization, and will continue to be. However, in an era of technological advancement and rapid dematerialization, libraries are no longer just quiet temples for the preservation of collective memory. Libraries too must evolve.Hence, the Library of Songdo International City will not only be an acknowledgement of the past, but also an intellectual and cultural symbol of the present and an omen for the future. Encompassing the past, present, and the future, this library design is inspired by “Feel the Rhythm of Korea,” a globally viral promotional video released by the Korean Tourism Organization. The video features rapid-fire excursions to various attractions in South Korea with the help of dancers in ageless clothing, an ambiguous choreography, and funky Korean pansori music. A fusion of the modern and traditional can result in a timeless design.

Reflecting Songdo’s unique urban planning, which allows for unconventionally high tech driven infrastructure and vast green spaces, the building design of the library emphasizes an interactive, accessible, and open atmosphere. Characteristically shaped consonants and vowels from the Korean language ( ㄹ, ㅅ, ㄱ, ㅏ, etc.) are embedded into the structural volume to create wide, open spaces throughout the library. Korean letters were used to achieve this as a meaningful gesture towards the language, which serves as a foundation for the information and knowledge encompassed by the libraries. Located in an international city, this library will be at the forefront of representing Korea to the world. Hence, embedding Korean letters into the building form itself is an expressive opportunity to promote Korea’s culture and society.

The ground level features an unobstructed, expansive courtyard, which not only can be used as an interactive, democratic space, but also be employed to host artistic and cultural festivities. In addition, an accessible, traditional Korean pavilion sits atop a gentle waterfall at the north side of the courtyard and serves as another place of gathering of old and new generations.
The library is organized based on a range of activities and preferences. Expanding upon the courtyard’s outside interactive space, the first floor is a location for livelier indoor activities with multi-functional rooms. As one moves up, the library gradually transitions into an area for quieter activities, such as studying, conference and even podcast recording or computer coding, game development lab.
Book and data storage is relegated to a comparatively minimal space above the first floor, and maintained by a robotic book-retrieval system. With advanced technology, this library of the future can simultaneously acknowledge and deemphasize its traditional role of storing and presenting books. This allows the design to mainly focus on constructing a social sphere where the people of Songdo can congregate and interact intellectually and culturally.
As a nod to Songdo’s commitment to sustainability and reducing the global carbon footprint, this library design features eco-friendly characteristics, such as renewable energy systems and green building architecture. Not only are solar panels employed on the roof, but also open spaces and terraces throughout the library will have an abundance of natural trees and plants. In addition, the north, west, and east facades feature mechanical panes with plant cover. These panes revolve, turn, and fixate using artificial intelligence technology in order to control solar gains, reduce temperatures, control humidity and filter polluted air that seasonally blows.

Media Gallery 

Competition Board

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