International Design Competition for Library; SONGDO

송도국제도시 도서관 건립 국제설계공모

4th Prize

Location : 115-2, songdo-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Republic of Korea   
Site area : 9,427 ㎡
Gross floor area : 8,020 ㎡
Program : Library
Team : Safari Architects
Link :

A promenade to daily life: Oasis of knowledge
Libraries in urban centers should be accessible and open to all as it has a strong feature of public space. On top of that, it should provide not only knowledge and information but also a shelter and a green, relaxing space as it is an “Oasis of Knowledge” in the center of the city. The design of void library, which will make the space open and accessible, will encourage people and the space to have communication of knowledge and communication of everyday life. The form of the new library of Songdo was approached by planning the landscape connecting from the site naturally. The roof of the library linked to the buff green is providing a library in the park which will give a sense of “Promenade of everyday life”. The mass composition with a gentle slope revealing the minimal form allows pedestrians to experience urban accessibility and escape the authoritative library type. The contrast between the hidden landscape roof and the space in the transparent curtain wall becomes a new urban icon in the middle of Songdo’s artificial buildings.   

Urban Green Network: Library on the walk
The library should be a welcoming place rather than a particular place, and it should be the background of the city, like a park in everyday life. In addition, it is necessary to have a multi-purpose space where nature, culture, and books can harmonize, as oppose to the authoritative library. Only with this “everyday library” can allow people to easily communicate and engage. For the reading room in the promenade, the layout of the building was connected with the buffer green area to complete the axis of Songdo’s green-network, and the front was integrated into an open green area connected to the public office. A space where you can see the panoramic view of the golf zone and the horizon of the west sea was planned through the landscape roof above the reading room. The Landscape Library, which is a part of the park, is integrated into a hidden library in everyday life, while at the same time showing a spatial composition in which knowledge and community are connected as one.

New Songdo City:  Harmony Between Nature And Artificiality
The unique landscape of Songdo city originates from the city’s origin. This is because it is a geopolitical location where the west sea and artificial land reclaimed through reclamation projects meet. We started approaching the project from the newly reclaimed Songdo land. The lifted landscape roof and the reading room in the basement space reveal the identity of Songdo’s unique library, conceived from the reclaimed land. The site is located at the node where residential areas, universities, and research institutes of industrial facilities meet, and as an international city, it represents a heterogeneous urban landscape in which various programs coexist. In order to harmonize with this urban landscape, the shape of the building is not symbolic and should be planned with a natural slope of the site. The shape of the library was concealed in green space as much as possible to provide a resting space for citizens, and a green pattern of the roof was planned to complete the green network. Through the contrast between the vacated daily library and the open reading room in the basement, the new Songdo Library’s unique place was remembered.

Hidden Library
The mass of the new Songdo Library connected the green axis of the park in the buffer green area and secured the frontality by lifting the roof to the side of the road. The green pattern leading to the top of the sloping roof makes the library a continuation of the park in the city center. The mass lifted from the ground is not entirely visible, giving citizens the library to return to their everyday park. The contrast between the library in the park on the roof and the continuous bookshelf seen from the inside creates a new cityscape unique to Songdo where man-made and nature coexist. The layout of the library was linked to the buffer green area, and the front plaza was left empty for a new public building in the future. In this empty plaza, various events will take place in the background of a hidden library. The main entrance of citizens is on the north side of the road, but auxiliary entrances are installed in all four directions so that the library can be easily accessed and seen from anywhere. On the west side of the site, parking and drive-through of the book rental and return is separated by maximum separation from the pedestrian way.

Open Reading Room: An easily accessible space for everyone The basic function of public libraries has been lending books, providing reading places, and delivering thousands of years of human history. It also delivered strong public enlightenment – “access to information and knowledge”. However, as the rapid change and development of electronic media and the role of public libraries increased, the functional needs of the library began to change, and accordingly, the library space had to play a new role as a public domain. A public library that contains people, books, and space should break away from the existing concept and become a fully-accessible library in daily life. The library should no longer be a place to visit, but a place merged with everyday life. Anyone should be able to reach it easily, and reading rooms should be planned at the pedestrian’s eye level.

The Book Hall
The main reading room on the first floor above the ground was designed in a circulation type bookshelf with a large hall in the center. Upon entering the entrance, visitors can experience the coexistence of light falling through the open library in the inner courtyard and the landscape roof. The circular corridor and the stepped bookshelf going down to the underground courtyard give the illusion of walking on a daily promenade. A huge bookshelf is installed on the walls of all reading rooms, and various books can be arranged along both sides of the wall. The display method of books by bookshelf was composed of contents themed for each lifestyle. For example, contents such as travel, food, sports, and art are classified based on interests, and books with the same criteria are collected separately. The collection management method was changed from closed-stack system to open-stack system, allowing you to experience the magnificence of the library. Citizens can freely take out books at “The Book Hall”, looking at each other in a staircase space immersed in the center of the library, and sharing their daily lives. The module of the bookshelf was laid out according to the human scale, and was planned to allow citizens to set their own life styles.

Reading Room For Everyday
It was planned as a mezzanine, staircase-type bookshelf taking into account the height of 6m. The -3m level bookshelf on the middle floor is a transition space for going from the ground to the basement level, and a Grand Bookstep was installed to create a community space for citizens. In the center of the -6m level reading room, a cafe was organized for the convenience of residents, and the scenery of reading along with the promenade was planned. Around “The Book Hall”, the Culture & Education area, Multimedia area, and Auditorium are divided around the hall. The Preservation Room minimized the service flow in connection with the parking lot, and an auditorium, which requires a high floor height, was arranged to allow various performances to be held. A separate shuttle elevator was installed for service at the middle level and for the circulation of people with disabilities, and users can select books that fit their lifestyle at the open access “The Book Hall” and read them in the cafe if necessary.

Culture & Education Zone
The Culture & Education Zone was planned to have sunken so that citizens who do not use the library can enter from the outside. A bookshelf was also installed in the back space of The Book Hall, which can be seen while descending from the sunken, making it an open reading room where the ground and the basement become one. The light coming through the open window of sunken secured the illuminance inside the basement, and the ventilation was installed to give an even more pleasant space in the exhibition hall and lecture ha

Children Materials & Work/Management Zone
The Children Materials zone was arranged in an open plan on the outskirts of the first floor so that children and infants could easily access it. On top of that, through a children’s playground linked to an outdoor Kindergarten, the space was linked allowing both reading and playing, and a bright atmosphere was created by maximizing natural light. In the children and infants reading space, a nursing room and toilet were installed separately to increase convenience. Work & Management was placed on the 2nd floor, and the work/management space and the library area were completely separated vertically. Especially, by linking the outdoor parking lot and the service area, the information desk and the vertical circulation, it was made easier for employees to manage the work flow and service vehicles. The business area of the open plan was arranged in the south for an optimal lightening

Zoning & Program & Circulation
Vehicles can be accessed from the North Convensia 320-ro, and the traffic line is divided by a drive- through for lending and returning books and an entrance ramp to the underground parking lot. A total of 50 parking spaces were secured by linking 15 ground parking spaces and 35 underground parking spaces. On the first basement floor, a space for loading and unloading data was secured, and the service flow was separated by placing it near the freight elevator. In addition, parking for the disabled was placed near the secondary entrance to consider accessibility. The main reading room enters the first floor above the ground and can go down through the arrangement of the -3m level (mezzanine floor) and -6m level circulation reading room on the first basement level. Those who use a separate cultural/educational facility can enter the first basement floor through Sunken, and the office/management space is zoned on the second floor, separating the functions vertically from the library space.


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