BY KIM HART
Public libraries can sometimes be taken for granted. From their vast, free, and accessible collections of books (plus magazines, movies, and music, at times) to their welcoming, open spaces, they’re powerful institutions that enrich minds and spread knowledge amongst the masses.
While all libraries are important incubators to foster learning, some are also visually stunning to experience—featuring centuries-old frescoes, marvelous architectural details, and innovative designs that make studying and borrowing texts all the more enjoyable. Here, we’ve rounded up eight of the world’s most striking public libraries, in no particular order.
MIN BURI OLD MARKET LIBRARY, BANGKOK, THAILAND
Photo by Pasi Aalto. Courtesy of Aalto.
Full disclosure: This isn’t your average public library. What was formerly a derelict space within a century-old building in one of Bangkok’s most impoverished districts is now home to a unique community library. The space is complete with a lofted study zone, a backyard area, and a central reading room that has an assortment of colorful cube-shaped shelves filled with books. Measuring 10 by 30 feet, and built for less than $5,000, the Min Buri Old Market Library is the result of a collaboration between TYIN tegnestue architects, a nonprofit organization in Norway, and the Thai-based CASE architecture studio.
The two teams took a largely environmental approach to the small library’s design, using as many local and reused materials as possible (such as recycled wood for the structural cladding). They incorporated sun-loving skylights and placing large potted plants throughout. The Min Buri Library is not only an attractive, design-forward space that’d be perfect for curling up with a book, it’s also beneficial for the largely impoverished neighborhood. “The urban poor, in areas like Min Buri, are [often] left out of social and humanitarian support systems,” wrote TYIN in a statement upon the library’s opening. “[Our] aim…is to strengthen the passion in the neighborhood that eventually can contribute to a positive development in the area.” ………..