aoe Proposes Rounded Leaning Library for Songdo International Library Competition

Songdo-dong, South Korea

Songdo International City is located in the vicinity of Incheon Port, 56 km west of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The city is only a 15-minute drive away from Incheon Airport, its ideal geographical location makes it a better place for business and trades in Northeast Asia. Songdo International City is known for being a tech-based, intellectual, and eco-city. While the infrastructure of the city is growing mature, the development of more cultural buildings, such as this public library, is expected to be a key indicator to carry out a cultural purpose into the city and hoped to draw closer connections with their living citizens.

The concept of this library starts from understanding the true nature of this library that it will not only be as a landmark in a city, but the importance of its publicity that connects with their local citizens and tourists. Therefore, two key spaces were carved out to create a Reading Hall (towards the south-facing natural view) and a Community Living Hall (towards north facing city/community) for the citizens/visitors to gather and possibly to host events or exhibitions. It is hoped that this new-generation library would bring great reading/learning experiences to the public, and being a local venue for events, gatherings, exhibitions to happen at the same time.

The rounded form responds best to its surrounding context, it allows maximum access from different directions, minimized the impact on the neighboring kindergarten, and maximizing the open space for their citizens to gather. Moreover, based on accurate calculations by the designer, the building leans at an angle of 18.5° to the south to avoid direct sunlight in summer, and keep warm in winter, creating a bright, comfortable, and energy-saving space for reading and events. A concrete core wall with a cantilever-truss system is used as the structural system. According to calculations by engineers, the reading hall uses only 4 diagonal structural columns for diagonal bracing, so that visitors enjoy the most extensive space for reading and viewing. After careful consideration, charred wood cladding and glass curtain were selected as the main materials for the façade. The combination of these two materials not only brings contrasts to visual appearances. It also adapts to the local context climatically, the charred wood is expected to last for 80 to 100 years, with minimum maintenance needed.

The interior organizations of the library are main the Living Hall (North facing), which connects the outdoor public space, events, gathering, open lectures are expected to happen in this space, and the usage of the Auditorium, Community Classrooms are all accessible by the public even if the main library area is closed; and the General Reading Hall (South Facing), this cascading space is organized into multiple reading zones to encourage different learning activities for both individual and group users.

Sustainability considerations took place in the early concept stage as the building tilted to the south to avoid direct sunlight and reduce heat gain in summer and gain thermal energy in winter. This would create a comfortable reading space (South facing) and a bright community living hall (North facing) for events and exhibitions. Further sustainable and LEED design strategy helps the building with natural ventilation, low energy consumption, maximum recycled energy, and collections, it is becoming a truly self-sustaining architecture.

The value of the library as a place gradually weakens due to the impact of the Internet, but it plays an important role in the accumulation, sharing, and dissemination of knowledge. It is the home of interesting souls and the cultural repository of a city, with consideration to the social significance of civilization preservation. The comfortable reading spaces and multi-functional public space will reshape the value of the library as a place so that it serves as the cultural paradise for the citizens, and a cultural landmark where people like to visit. The building itself is a smart building “living” in the, and also a “future” library.

Technical sheet

Project Name: The Library of SONGDO International City

Architecture Firm: aoe


Contact e-mail:

Firm Location: Beijing  

Gross Built Area: 8199.5Sq

Project location: # 115-2, Songdo-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon (in Songdo International City)

Lead Architects: Larry Wen,

Design Team: Jichang Pan, Xiangting Li, Ye Wang, Ruixue Fan, Yu Lu, Zhiyu Chang, Chen Liu (Interior), Yawen Xue (Interior)

Clients: Architecture Division. Yeonsu-gu office, Incheon-si, S.Korea Structure

Engineer: Arup Group

Limited Façade

Engineer: Inhabitgroup

Interior: aoe interiors

Photo credit: Ramka Co & aoe

About aoe

aoe is an architecture and interior design studio based in Beijing, China. Its award-winning work spans residential, commercial, hospitality, educational, civic, corporate, mixed-use, and urban planning markets. Underpinned by a creative intelligence-led philosophy, aoe intervenes in the social environment to create vibrant human-city spaces of the future. Responsive to modern facets of human life, aoe’s design solutions fuse science and technology with the arts and culture, resulting in an inspired and much-needed reinvention of urban living – all the while, respecting local cultures, nature, and different ways of life.

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