“Let him who has something to say step forward and be silent!”
The new Library of Songdo International City must represent and serve its ambitious purpose as an intellectual and cultural symbol for Songdo. Culture and intellectual pursuits, however, are quiet and discreet by nature. A cultural symbol does need to boast nor does it require to proclaim its purpose with blaring arrogance. Arguably, culture and the dissemination of knowledge is better achieved through dignified reflection, meaningful community engagement and graceful presence. Sometimes, a whisper is more powerful than a scream.
The proposed design for the Library of Songdo International City establishes its presence within the neighborhood by proposing a building deeply rooted in it’s urban context without resorting to architectural frenzy or overly exuberant forms. Anchored on reason and solid architectural principles instead of whimsy and marketing ploys, the result is a deliberately restrained yet powerful and radical proposal. Harmoniously integrated with nature, the new library will be a social hub and a generator of cultural exchange replacing the idea of a library as a temple of books with the notion of an open and democratic agora for the people.
The project design intent is physically manifested through two core propositions: (a) the creation of a continuos outdoor plaza environment at ground level which will ensure visual and pedestrian circulation connectivity between the different roads and parks that surround the library’s site and (b) the development of the library program offerings within a single floor plan level resulting in circulation flow efficiencies and general user friendliness for visitors and patrons of the library.
The outdoor plaza located above the library (c) is open to everyone and, in addition to its use as a public garden space, it can also provide an optional outdoor extension to the programatic offerings of the library. Diverse social gatherings and specific events such as book fairs, poetry readings and discussion groups can co-exist with yoga practitioners and casual park users. A single floor plan ensures full accessibility with easy access to the all of the library’s program. The horizontal connectivity provided by a single story solution also promotes the library as an open and democratic institution where users can quickly grasp and have access to the building’s offerings. In addition a single story solution will minimize maintenance costs while the below grade approach will achieve significant thermal and acoustic efficiencies.