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National Library
BIG

September 14, 2009 /

Astana, Kazakhstan

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Image courtesy BIG

Being one of the future cornerstones of Kazakh nation building, and a leading institution representing the Kazakh national identity, designing the library went beyond a mere architectural challenge.

The archive is organized as a circular loop of knowledge, surrounded by light and air on both sides. On the periphery a 360 degree panorama of Astana - at the heart of the building a contemplative courtyard domed by the heavenly light blue of the celestial vault.

The simplicity and perfection of the infinite circle allows for a crystal clear and intuitive orientation in the vast and growing collection that will populate the shelves of the National Library.

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Image courtesy BIG

The design of the National Library combines four universal archetypes across space and time into a new national symbol: the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt are merged into the form of a Moebius strip. The clarity of the circle, the courtyard of the rotunda, the gateway of the arch and the soft silhouette of the yurt are combined to create a new national monument appearing local and universal, contemporary and timeless, unique and archetypal at the same time./Bjarke Ingels

The ideal addition to the perfect circle will be a series of public programs that simultaneously wraps the library on the outside as well as the inside, above as well as below. Twisting the public program into a continuous spiraling path tracing the library on all sides, creates an architectural organization that combines the virtues of all 4 complimenting models.

Like a Möbius strip, the public programs move seamlessly from the inside to the outside and from ground to the sky providing spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and growing city skyline.

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Image courtesy BIG

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Image courtesy BIG

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Image courtesy BIG

The two interlocking structures: the perfect circle and the public spiral, create a building that transforms from a horizontal organization where library museum and support functions are placed next to each other, to a vertical organization where they are stacked on top of each other through a diagonal organization combining vertical hierarchy, horizontal connectivity and diagonal view lines. By wrapping the transforming composition of spaces with a continuous skin we create a Möbius strip volume where the facades move from inside to outside and back again.

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Image courtesy BIG6th Floor Plan
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Image courtesy BIGModelnational_library_astana_8.jpg
Image courtesy BIGEast West Section
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Image courtesy BIGNorth South Section

The Library is conceived as a symbiosis of urbanity and nature. Like Astana, which is located in the heart of the Kazakh mainland, it will be integrated into the heart of a recreated Kazakh landscape. The park around the library is designed like a living library of trees, plants, minerals and rocks allowing visitors to experience a cross section of Kazakhstan's natural landscape, and personally experience the capital's transition across the country from Almaty to Astana.

Facts about National Library

Total area:

approx. 33,000 m2

Collaborators:

ARUP

Partner in Charge:

Bjarke Ingels

Project Leader:

Thomas Christoffersen

Project Team:

Amy Campbell
Jakob Henke
Johan Cool
Jonas Barre
Daniel Sundlin

Client:

Kazakhstan Presidential Office

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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