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AR Library awards

In various incarnations, from the medieval bibliotheca and aristocratic wunderkammer, to public library and modern mediatheque, buildings for books have shaped human culture. The library is an immemorial building type, a repository of knowledge, rooted in place and resonating across time and its presence, or absence, is intimately bound up with the rise, or fall, of civilisation. Emblematic of the transcendent power of imagination and intellect, buildings for books stand as crucibles of memory and cultural identity. Their relationship with architecture is also perhaps second only to cathedrals, as evocative expressions of style, taste and technology, and their urban presence is undeniable. But how are they adapting to the challenges of the digital age, remote communities, diminished funding, social pressures and demographic change? Can the library, as we know it, survive and thrive? What is its future?

2018 winner

Green square library and plaza view of library entry pavilion  tom roe (photographer)

Square the circle: Green Square Library in Sydney, Australia by Stewart Hollenstein in association with Stewart ArchitectureSubscription

By Andrew Mackenzie

AR Library Winner: unconventional but uncompromising, Stewart Hollenstein’s Green Square development offers far more than the typical library

Highly Commended

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All in the mound: Maya Somaiya Library in Kopargaon, India, by Sameep Padora + AssociatesSubscription

By A Srivathsan

AR Library Highly Commended: in the Maya Somaiya Library, the constraints of the site paved the way for invention

Highly Commended

Pinch 1 elevation

The open book: The Pinch, Shuanghe village, China by Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin / the University of Hong KongSubscription

By Matthew Priestman

AR Library Highly Commended: community needs, the role of the public domain and disaster relief all coalesce in The Pinch, an imaginative timber structure by Olivier Ottevaere and John Lin of the University of Hong Kong


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Shelf life: CTLES extension, Bussy-Saint-Georges, France, by Antonini DarmonSubscription

By Andrew Ayers

AR Library Commended: Antonini Darmon’s extension to the storage facility for Paris’s educational libraries both increases and futureproofs the space



Urban grain: NRW Landesarchiv in Duisburg, Germany, by O&O BaukunstSubscription


AR Library Commended: rising from the carapace of an old granary, NRW Landesarchiv is both a tombstone for the Ruhr’s industrial age and a monument to our need to remember

Robert Smirke’s much loved 1857 British Library is one of the most famous examples of the radial plan, which was introduced into library design to enable the efficient monitoring of readers by librarians

Typology: LibrariesSubscription

By Oriel Prizeman

In this piece from November 2011, Oriel Prizeman examines six recent public library projects in the first of a major new quarterly series on typology

Other libraries previously published in the AR

Essays on books, their buildings and the life and architecture of words