Tainan Public Library, Taiwan
The oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan has a rich history influenced by different cultures. There are remnants of maritime trade with Europe in the 17th century, of the Chinese Ming Dynasty and Japanese settlements from the beginning of the 20th century. The city is rich in temples, including the famous 17th century Confucius Temple with its cantilevered roofs and beautifully carved ceilings. The new library takes from this history, is inspired by the local culture and has been designed for the tropical climate of Tainan. It is home to the city’s cultural heritage, modern art, music, films and over a million books, including more than 16,000 from the Japanese occupation period and of course, is equipped with the latest technologies of a modern library.
The most striking feature is the inverted stepped shape of the library. Slender columns support the cantilevers in rhythmically placed quartets, giving a feeling of weaving your way through a modern bamboo forest. The striking crown of the building is surrounded by vertical aluminium slats with carved flower patterns, which are reminiscent of the decorative latticed windows in the old town. These slats filter the light and keep the heat out. In the evening, this unique facade is recognizable from afar. The stepped building offers shelter to visitors both inside and outside and creates a smooth transition from exterior and interior. Below the cantilevers are four sunken patios for outdoor activities, with the largest accessible from the square; lectures, concerts and exhibitions can be organized here. Looking up, you can see the special finish of the awnings: champagne-coloured aluminium panels with a linear staggered relief, providing additional decorative elements to the facades. The rational construction of the library allows maximum flexibility, so that the building is prepared for future changes.
Project team: Mecanoo and MAYU Architects
Photos: Ethan Lee and Yu-Chen Chao