Image for Three good things: new state-of-the-art libraries

Three good things: new state-of-the-art libraries

Featuring imagination-boosting design and inspiring workshops on all sorts of topics, these institutions go far beyond just books

Featuring imagination-boosting design and inspiring workshops on all sorts of topics, these institutions go far beyond just books

1. Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez, Barcelona, Spain

Located in the working-class district of Sant Martí de Provençals, this £10m library opened last year and has just been awarded ‘best new public library in the world’ according to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Named after the Colombian magical realist who lived in the Catalan capital for seven years, the building’s wooden construction conjures images of a stack of open books. From the ground floor ‘ideas forum’ through to the sixth floor reading room (pictured), the focus is on learning and social connection, with workshops nurturing creativity, teaching new languages and sharing cooking skills.

Image: Eva Guillamet

2. Parramatta Library, Parramatta, Australia

Opened a year ago in Parramatta’s new PHIVE building, this community, cultural and civic hub boasts 65,000 books and a bold, sustainable design courtesy of French architect Manuelle Gautrand, in partnership with Australian architecture firms Lacoste + Stevenson and DesignInc.

Solar collectors on the sloping, mosaic-like roof generate power and provide heating and water, while giant louvre windows smart-linked to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology open and close automatically in tune with the prevailing weather. Go there for book clubs, creative writing workshops, author talks and 3D printing sessions, and if you ever tire of books there’s always the cafe overlooking the bustling Parramatta Square precinct.

Image: City of Parramatta

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3. Shanghai Library East, Shanghai, China

Scholar’s rocks – or Taihu stones – were prized by the intelligentsia of China’s Jin dynasty, who found inspiration in their edges, curves and hollows. The design of Shanghai’s new library, which opened earlier this year, takes inspiration from these rocks in its monolithic printed marble and glass exterior. As China’s biggest library, and the second largest in the world, it aims to host more than 1,200 events – and welcome some four million visitors – every year. Containing 4.8m books, a theatre, an exhibition space and a children’s library within its vast 115,000m2, it’s an impressive centre of knowledge and creativity for the people of Shanghai.

Image: Rawvision

Main image: City of Parramatta

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