Contract - Interiors Awards 2014: Public Space

design - features - institutional design



Interiors Awards 2014: Public Space

24 January, 2014

-By Murrye Bernard. Photography by Satoshi Asakawa


Kanazawa Umimirai  Library
Designer: Coelacanth K&H Architects
Client: City of Kanazawa
Location: Kanazawa, Japan

“A monumental, yet intimate space—the architecture and the interiors are seamless. With a meticulous, well-executed design, this very powerful, memorable place is a modern interpretation of something classic and iconic.” -Jury


Now that information is available digitally anytime, anywhere, people need good reasons to trek to their local libraries. The Kanazawa Umimirai Library, designed by Tokyo–based Coelacanth K&H Architects, has considerable appeal as a gathering place for residents of the already dense and rapidly urbanizing city of Kanazawa, located in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture. Its simple form, punctured by thousands of openings to maximize daylight, encloses tranquil, inviting spaces that celebrate the act of reading and serve as hubs for the community.

The building reflects trends in library design in Japan and many other countries that encourage patrons to linger, and it functions as more than just a repository for books. “While there have been big changes in society, thanks to advances in technology, the existence of a physical library is still expected,” says Kazumi Kudo, who co-founded Coelacanth K&H Architects with Hiroshi Horiba, and collaborated with him on this library. “It is a mission of a library to provide space in which many people can comfortably read together,” she says.

The architects designed the library as a “cake box” containing a basement and three floors, or “layers,” totaling 60,700 square feet. Approximately 6,000 glazed, circular openings—each measuring 8, 10, or 12 inches in diameter—punctuate the glass-fiber reinforced concrete facade, which is finished with plaster board painted white on the interior. These openings allow for soft, uniform light to stream in during the day, and emit a lantern-like glow at night.

A soaring reading room—drawing inspiration from the grand reading room within Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, designed by Henri Labrouste—occupies most of the second floor and measures 150-by-150-feet square and 40-feet-tall. Twenty-five slender steel columns painted white are spaced evenly throughout, creating the illusion of
a forest. Compact, automated shelves store books and allow for flexibility and openness.

Library patrons can choose to sit at study carrels lining the exterior wall, tables dispersed throughout the space, or along a continuous counter wrapping the glass balustrade of the mezzanine. Many of the minimal furnishings in the library were designed by Tokyo–based Fujie Kazuko Atelier. Overlooking the reading room, the mezzanine provides additional, informal reading areas and a corner for crafting. Connecting the floors is a circular staircase with a smooth, white enclosure punctuated by square openings, reflecting the building’s facade design and overall form.

The reading room is typically a quiet space, but the library includes other areas intended for more social activities. Meeting rooms, galleries, and a theater that seats more than 220 people are located on the ground floor near the entrance to be easily accessible. And the building gives back to the community in another way: it uses one-third less energy than typical civic buildings in the region. Aside from extensive daylighting, other sustainable features include natural ventilation through openings in the roof and an under-floor radiant system that keeps the building comfortable for occupants year-round.

Although Kanazawa has a population of 450,000, more than 800,000 people have visited the library within a year. Its spaces encourage visitors to pick up books and stay for a while, but when they leave, Kudo says, it also inspires them to log in to Facebook and post about their positive experiences at the library, perpetuating the cycle.




Interiors Awards 2014: Public Space

24 January, 2014


Kanazawa Umimirai  Library
Designer: Coelacanth K&H Architects
Client: City of Kanazawa
Location: Kanazawa, Japan

“A monumental, yet intimate space—the architecture and the interiors are seamless. With a meticulous, well-executed design, this very powerful, memorable place is a modern interpretation of something classic and iconic.” -Jury


Now that information is available digitally anytime, anywhere, people need good reasons to trek to their local libraries. The Kanazawa Umimirai Library, designed by Tokyo–based Coelacanth K&H Architects, has considerable appeal as a gathering place for residents of the already dense and rapidly urbanizing city of Kanazawa, located in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture. Its simple form, punctured by thousands of openings to maximize daylight, encloses tranquil, inviting spaces that celebrate the act of reading and serve as hubs for the community.

The building reflects trends in library design in Japan and many other countries that encourage patrons to linger, and it functions as more than just a repository for books. “While there have been big changes in society, thanks to advances in technology, the existence of a physical library is still expected,” says Kazumi Kudo, who co-founded Coelacanth K&H Architects with Hiroshi Horiba, and collaborated with him on this library. “It is a mission of a library to provide space in which many people can comfortably read together,” she says.

The architects designed the library as a “cake box” containing a basement and three floors, or “layers,” totaling 60,700 square feet. Approximately 6,000 glazed, circular openings—each measuring 8, 10, or 12 inches in diameter—punctuate the glass-fiber reinforced concrete facade, which is finished with plaster board painted white on the interior. These openings allow for soft, uniform light to stream in during the day, and emit a lantern-like glow at night.

A soaring reading room—drawing inspiration from the grand reading room within Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, designed by Henri Labrouste—occupies most of the second floor and measures 150-by-150-feet square and 40-feet-tall. Twenty-five slender steel columns painted white are spaced evenly throughout, creating the illusion of
a forest. Compact, automated shelves store books and allow for flexibility and openness.

Library patrons can choose to sit at study carrels lining the exterior wall, tables dispersed throughout the space, or along a continuous counter wrapping the glass balustrade of the mezzanine. Many of the minimal furnishings in the library were designed by Tokyo–based Fujie Kazuko Atelier. Overlooking the reading room, the mezzanine provides additional, informal reading areas and a corner for crafting. Connecting the floors is a circular staircase with a smooth, white enclosure punctuated by square openings, reflecting the building’s facade design and overall form.

The reading room is typically a quiet space, but the library includes other areas intended for more social activities. Meeting rooms, galleries, and a theater that seats more than 220 people are located on the ground floor near the entrance to be easily accessible. And the building gives back to the community in another way: it uses one-third less energy than typical civic buildings in the region. Aside from extensive daylighting, other sustainable features include natural ventilation through openings in the roof and an under-floor radiant system that keeps the building comfortable for occupants year-round.

Although Kanazawa has a population of 450,000, more than 800,000 people have visited the library within a year. Its spaces encourage visitors to pick up books and stay for a while, but when they leave, Kudo says, it also inspires them to log in to Facebook and post about their positive experiences at the library, perpetuating the cycle.

 


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