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Competition: National Central Library Southern Branch, Taiwan

Taiwan’s National Central Library has launched an open international contest to design a NT$2.5 billion southern branch near Tainan (Deadline: 20 August)

The single-stage competition will select an ‘iconic’ design for a landmark 51,000m2 National Central Library and National Repository Library in Xinying District around 37km north of Tainan City.

The ambitious project will transform a large undeveloped suburban plot on the outskirts of Xinying District surrounded by housing and a municipal swimming pool and stadium. The facility will feature a digital preservation centre and aims to boost activity within the local knowledge economy.

Contest site in Xinying District, Taiwan

Contest site in Xinying District, Taiwan

Source: Image by Google Earth

Contest site in Xinying District, Taiwan

According to the brief: ‘For the innovation of service facilities, enhancement of quality service and reinforcement of national competitiveness, the Southern Branch of the National Central Library and National Repository Library will be located at Xinying District, Tainan, and is anticipated to be the largest, most resource abundant national library in southern Taiwan.

‘Further, a digital preservation centre will be established in the National Repository Library, thus National Repository Library will serve as the pioneer library in providing preservation service for valuable academic digital materials in Taiwan. The Southern Branch of the National Central Library and National Repository Library aims to establish a national-standard library and a repository library, via international perspective and a fresh vision, in order to enhance the competitive ability of Taiwan in this era of knowledge economy.’

Xinying District is a town of around 80,000 inhabitants and home to a variety of Tainan City government offices. The settlement is famous for its canals and night market and is connected to Tainan City via a motorway.

Taiwan’s National Central Library was founded in 1914 and, as well as a large number of books, holds hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the country’s history. The library was originally based in central Taipei but moved to the suburbs in 2004.

The latest NT$2.5 billion project will create a southern branch of the library on an undeveloped 5.7ha site which currently contains several sports pitches. Other nearby facilities include a municipal swimming pool, a stadium, and a large shopping centre.

The new complex, backed by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, will feature both a national library and a national collections centre. Other planned facilities include a professional development centre, a preservation and restoration centre and a children’s section.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 20 August

Contact details

National Central Library

Tel: +886 2 23619132 #361

Visit the competition website for more information

Southmere Village Library case study: Bissett Adams Architects

The London practice discusses lessons learned designing a competition-winning new library for Thamesmead, England

How did your project deliver a landmark new library for Thamesmead?

Southmere Village Library will be part of a new lakeside community building located at the heart of a major regeneration development in Abbey Wood, Thamesmead, led by Peabody. The building was the subject of a RIBA competition called by Peabody and the London Borough of Bexley, won by Bisset Adams with a design which was chosen both by the judging panel and by local people invited to comment on shortlisted designs; from the outset local people have been involved in the choice and design of their new library, and have since been invited to contribute to the design process.

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

The design incorporates a welcoming, ‘transparent’ library, opening onto the new public square, reflecting its location and environment; the lakeside location provides views into the main library, and a glazed façade to the community space upstairs with views across the lake to the Bow Arts Centre. Each façade of the building is considered, including the green roof which is viewed from neighbouring flats. Internally the spaces are fully flexible, and can be reconfigured for events or different needs at different times of year (eg exam time revision).

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The design concept was the ‘Swan’s Nest’, referring to swans nesting on the lake and using local materials for their nests, and the role of the nest to nurture and raise their young.

The design development process took inspiration from the local surroundings, using photography, consultation with local people; we created a model from scrap materials to mirror the recycling of materials in a swan’s nest, and have designed in 3D to ensure the customer’s experience of the library is clearly understood.

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new national repository library for Taiwan?

The main advice for those designing a repository library for Taiwan would be to understand and celebrate the history, culture and heritage of the people it is to serve, and to create a welcoming library which is used and owned by the Taiwanese people. Removing barriers to entry can be achieved by creating an open and flexible entrance space, with a rich programme of events and exhibitions to engage with a wide audience, providing flexible space to work, study or relax for long or short-term visits.

Internally, spaces should be welcoming, light and flexible, with practical considerations such as good visibility/surveillance, adaptable furniture with power and excellent Wi-Fi connections, and a range of other services such as café, meeting and events space, auditorium etc to create a rich centre of culture, history and learning.

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

Southmere Village Library by Bissett Adams Architects

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