Room to Read in a Digital World: 14 Modern Library Designs

Helsinki University Main Library

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The largest academic library in Finland combines all the traditional expectations of such a facility with ways to meet the demands of the modern world, integrating soundproof working areas and rooms for digital media. Designed by Anttinen Oiva Architects, ‘Kaisa House’ has a spacious atrium encircled by walkways that look out onto the center of the city.

The Pinch: Tiny Library in Earthquake-Devastated Village

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A village devastated by an earthquake in 2012 has a beautiful new library that also functions as a playspace and gathering point to reactivate communal areas that were previously abandoned. ‘The Pinch’ is situated on a retaining wall, bridging two levels with a curving habitable wooden roof that acts as a passage to the lower level of the village plaza.

National Library for Prague

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Looking like a cartoon alien from overhead, this library proposal by Future Systems is certainly unlike any other you’ve ever seen. The New National Library of the Czech Republic is essentially a dome under a blanket, with mirror-finished stainless steel wings lifting up the edges to reflect the building upon itself. The unusual form and curvature makes reference to baroque buildings in the city of Prague. Inside, readers can access 10 million books stored underground via an automated storage and retrieval system that brings you what you want in less than 5 minutes.

Copenhagen New Modern Library

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Its exterior forming a continuous circle, the Copenhagen New Modern Library design by Sang-Uk & Heeyun connects all the functions you’d expect in a contemporary library with the adjacent plaza and the sea, a timber skin stretching over the glazed walls for shaded views. The library includes education spaces, a bookstore, a cafe and reading spaces as well as the standard bookshelves.

Maranello Library by Andrea Maffei Architects

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Undulating waves of glass project reading spaces out into a peaceful courtyard at the Maranello Library in Modena, Italy, designed by Andrea Maffei Architects. Bordering a residential area, the library blends into the neighborhood while also offering a beautiful community hub, including a video library and a game room.