Mecanoo and Mayu Architects have completed a 37,000-sq-m library in the Taiwanese city, a building inspired by the local culture.

Home to over a million books and a vast multimedia collection, the Tainan Public Library is a place rich in heritage, and its design – architectural, interior and landscape – reflects that. Designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo and local practice Mayu Architects, the space is planned to encourage visitors to fully utilize the institution both in and outdoors. Outside, its inverted stepped structure, studded with slim cantilever-supporting columns, gives people the feeling that they are navigating through a bamboo forest. Beneath the cantilevers are four sunken patios for hosting events and activities including concerts, exhibitions, lectures and more.

A double-height atrium complete with an art installation by Paul Cocksedge, sheets of paper seemingly frozen in a gust of wind, greets library-goers inside – interactive art plays a fundamental role in activating the wood-clad interiors, signifying the emphasis on user engagement. Literally and visually each level is a sculptural red staircase complementing the geometric layout. These floors include individual spaces for children and teenagers, a media library where one can watch movies, Braille library, art gallery, maker area, bookshop and more. On the top floor dedicated to the heritage collection, four auxiliary roof gardens offer a view of the city and provide relaxing spaces for reading and working.

Location No. 255, Kangqiao Avenue, Yongkang District, Tainan City, Taiwan