Taking their cue from the 19th-century Parisian Bibliotheque Nationale designed by the famous rationalist architect Henri Labrouste, Kazumi Kudo and Hiroshi Horiba, the architects and founders of the Tokyo-based Coelacanth K&H Architects have realised this public library located in the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa. The one-storey building, described by its designers as a ‘cake box’, has been completed earlier this year and its most distinctive feature, the intricately-detailed white concrete façade encompasses around 6000 circular windows that fill the building’s integral part, the 12-metre-long reading room, with a ‘soft, uniform light’.
From the architects:
‘Libraries in Japan are moving towards a model that encourages readers to stay and linger, instead of their original function as spaces for collecting and lending out books. Reflecting the general trend for libraries to facilitate reading as well as other functions, this library uses compact automated shelves that operate as a closed stack system. This is combined with halls and meeting rooms that promote social exchange between its users, much like a community center. The facility is also expected to serve as a new hub for social life among the local community.’
‘For this project, we proposed a simple space measuring 45m by 45m with a height of about 12m, enclosed by a “punching wall” and supported by 25 pillars that would function as a storehouse for books and a hub for human communication. This huge, massive volume served as a reading space in keeping with the mood and setting of a library.
‘The overall structure of the library resembles an internal three-layered floor covered with a large box that we refer to as a “cake box”. The large external “punching wall” in the cavernous reading room features some 6,000 small openings (measuring 200, 250 and 300mm) across its entire surface that allow a soft, uniform light to enter the building.’