Architecture

Library of Stair

Robert Alfred Tang
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Project idea

Inspired by the unique characteristics of Sai Ying Pun of endless slopes and stairways, the Library of Stairs is created by manipulating the functionality of stairs within a place of knowledge. Sitting on a slope, the library was designed to merge with the surrounding context, hence creating large stairs of the same gradient of that on the site. As a result, the exterior of the building would be parallel with the site.

Project description

Arriving to the library, users will first be greeted by the glassy exterior of the building, with fins sticking out that resembles the slope of the site. The main entrance is located right next to the cross road of the site, making it notable and easy to access.

The stairs are the main motif of the building, each serving a different purpose on the ascending floors. On the ground level, the stairs match the existing steps on the site, and by extending the width of the existing steps to the vicinity of the library, it invites curious pedestrians to discover knowledge inside. The steps also connects the building from ground floor to the basement floor, in which a cafe is located. Ascending the floors, the program of the steps goes from public to private, from an auditorium to common reading area to private study carrels. The stairs component are similar to each other, with circulation stepping on one side, and on the other side, the unit of space is occupied by different programs on each floor; the common reading area consist of a larger space with a continuous flow of bookshelves, the private study carrel offer spaces of solitude with independent study desk. The steps themselves can also station multiple bookshelves.

Once arriving at the steps, readers would find themselves units of reading areas sitting on the side of the wide steps. They can enjoy the pleasure of reading in the larger common reading area, and be embraced by natural lights that enters from the side. Walking past the reading units, readers can see the cascading steps echoing with the sloped nature of Sai Ying Pun.

In the information age, knowledge is readily available online. As such, this library aims to give out knowledge actively, in order to attract people of a younger age to come. As a result, the auditorium is set up to hold public lectures periodically. By locating the auditorium on the ground floor, the building offers ease of access to those who wanted to attend the lecture, as well as offering an opportunity to continue exploring the library through the steps.

Due to the stepped nature of the library, the space within is organized through an open plan, with little concrete walls separating the building. This offers readers a greater spatial experience towards the grand steps the library is made of. With the units of space occupied by reading spaces and partially by bookshelves, the service units of fire stairs, elevators and toilets are all position on the inner side of the building, intended to cause the fewest obstruction to the main space.

Technical information

Column Span: 5m