Beijing City Library
The World's Largest Library Reading Space


Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture


The new Beijing City Library, due to complete early 2024, will offer a contemporary yet timeless space for learning, knowledge sharing and open discussions, as well as celebrating the cultural richness of Beijing and China at large.

Aiming to set new standards for sustainable library design, the Beijing sub-center library will become distinctly different to conventional libraries, utilizing technology, smart design and local resources.

Technical details

Under Construction
Beijing, China

Beijing Planning and Natural Resource Bureau

Following an international design competition win in 2018, Snøhetta was commissioned to design the new City Library in the Chinese capital and has developed the architectural, landscape, and interior design in partnership with local partner ECADI. Construction started in 2020 and since then, the roof has been put in place and the tall glass enclosure, up to 16 meters, is currently under installation. At completion, this will be China’s first self-supporting glass facade project.

Photo: Plomp

Photo: Plomp

Openness and Inclusion

The library was designed and created to celebrate a public space for learning, information exchange and open discussions, as well as celebrating Beijing’s heritage and rich cultural history of science, art and performance. This has been emphasized by creating a common space as the center of the library, highlighted by a prominent sculpted learning landscape that covers and permeates throughout the whole library.

Photo: Plomp

Roof Canopy

Under the ginkgo roof-like canopy and atop the sculpted landscape is a variety of experiential spaces where visitors can find their private place for reading and learning while always being connected to the larger common area.

Creating a feeling of being tall and low, open and closed, private and public all at the same time. There are no designated "sections" or categorizations of knowledge.

Photo: Plomp

Building Technology

Extended from the sculpted reading landscape are columns that reach up to support the roof.

Each tree column is also a building technology component, resulting in a distributed technology system that tackles climate control, lighting, acoustic comfort, and rainwater disposal. The stepped landscape areas with the tree-like surroundings invite people to sit down and take a break at any time on their journey through the building – creating an informal zone and the notion of sitting under a tree reading your favorite book.

Photo: Plomp

Library for the Future

Beijing City Library aims to set a new benchmark for future library design in many aspects – from building and enclosure technology, social and environmental sustainability, to public ownership in cultural spaces. When creating the new Beijing sub-center Library, Snøhetta and its partners have strived to meet the highest standards possible when it comes to sustainability.

The roof has integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) construction elements that replace the conventional roofing and facade materials, utilizing the prime exposure of the rooftop to sunlight for renewable energy production and creating one of the most environmentally friendly roofs possible. The roof also has an overhang to reduce solar gain. The glass height has been reduced on the walls facing east and west, as well as adding an active sun-shading device facing the south and west façade. The glass itself is an insulated glass unit with Low-E- performance. All the major materials for the construction have been sourced locally, and the use of modular components with a rationalized structural grid has been used to reduce the need for customization for both the columns and the roof.