The library of the future is like a ‘town’ that brings together the community and nature in an open learning environment which also incorporates a book museum. It moves away from the conventional “library as a monument” to “rooms of knowledge”, as proposed by BAF and CRA architects.

The Big Canopy

Instead of re-creating yet another monumental library, the library of the future is envisioned to be an open and transparent new learning environment of “rooms of knowledge” that redefines the conventional library into a less formal but interactive hub. Proposed by Bio-architecture Formosana (BAF) together with Carlo Ratti Associatti (CRA), co-winners of the international competition of the National Library Southern Branch and National Depository Library in Tainan, Taiwan, the design topped a total of nine competing ideas.

This new public building, commissioned by the National Central Library, will accommodate a library, a book museum and a joint archives center. A digital preservation centre will serve as the pioneer library in providing preservation service for valuable academic digital materials in Taiwan to enhance its competitiveness in this era of knowledge economy.

Bird eye

The 51,000 m2 National Central Library and National Repository Library will be located in the southern part of Taiwan in XinYing District around 23km south of Chiayi City and 37km north of Tainan City. It is a town of around 80,000 inhabitants and home to many of Tainan City government offices.

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This project hopes to transform a large undeveloped suburban plot on the outskirts of Xinying District surrounded by housing, a municipal swimming pool and stadium. The facility aims to boost activity within the southern community.

Library As A Town


The concept of the library as a town was inspired by the humility of the context while creating a “town” as part of the town fabric. The journey to the library is hoped to be as seamless and effortless as possible to form
an integral part of the community. Three main ideas drive the creation of this chance encounter: The integration with nature, the openness of learning and the “museumisation” of the library.

1. One with Nature

The 5.7 ha site is currently both used as a park and for sports activities. The trees are towering within the site and the golden shower tree boulevard is a landmark destination for the community. The placement of the massing is done with utmost consideration in keeping with ecological diversity and integration with nature. They preserve almost 90% of trees on site while carefully inserting the masses within the areas without trees. This site has an existing ecosystem which will be preserved in order for the built environment to coexist harmoniously with the natural environment.

The Balcony

2. Open Learning Hub

As a response to the new-age learning environment such as co-learning, open source data sharing and digital networking, the architects propose the future library as a hub of open learning platform to promote collaboration. The main lobby, also known as the “salon” will be an interactive flexible space for learning and events which redefine the traditional “see-the-books reading room” idea. They have designed “The Agora” under the solar canopy as a response to the hot and humid town to provide shade and harness energy. The space will be used publicly during any time of the day and for semi-outdoor events overlooking the lush landscape.

The Salon

3. Living Museum

This project calls for a book museum in the library. The architects feel there is a need to redefine the entire museum rather than just the book museum. The curatorial of this museum takes the theme of “Life of a Book”. The journey of a museum begins in the public main axis showcasing the Book-bot (ASRS- automated storage and retrieval system) while slowly entering into the museum quarter surrounded by trees. The museum loop includes peeping into the “behind-the-scenes” of books restoration, preservation and digitalization.

This Library Town is expected to greet the public in 2023.


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