Designing a library is not an easy task; one has to account for an innumerable amount of needs that must be satisfied, and limiting circumstances that must be worked around, all while having less and less land space to do so. So, in what direction can you take your library’s design? For some designers, the answer was simple – upwards, to the sky!

In this week’s post, guest writer Nina Grant brings three examples of libraries from around the world that utilize vertical designs to offer a breathtaking experience to their visitors. Enjoy!

Library makeovers have become dream projects among professionals who want to flex their design skills. In Boston, for instance, eight developers and architect firms from the US and abroad threw their names in the hat to design a new public library in the city. The proposals, which were unveiled in August 2023, features different types of creative concepts, ranging from colorful fins attached to a multi-story library space to an all-glass building with a dramatic signage to draw in visitors.

Boston isn’t the only place where library upgrades are happening. Major cities all across the globe are now boasting modernized libraries that impress even the most discerning of interior design and architecture enthusiasts. Some of these libraries even rival multi-floor structures as they extend upwards to provide comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing reading and co-working spaces for everyone. From staircases to stories, read on to explore the vertical designs of modern libraries.

On-demand Demo with Princhy

Learn the key aspects of Princh! Watch our on-demand demos at your convenience and see what makes Princh such a simple solution. Watch our demos here.

The Arabian Library – Scottsdale, Arizona

If you’re on a family trip in Scottsdale, take your kids to the Arabian Library and see how being inside it inspires them to pick up a book. It’s designed to mimic the desert slot canyons of Arizona, featuring tall outer walls of pre-rusted steel supporting an earthen and stone roof. It also makes use of alternative material choices, such as recycled MDF board and cotton for insulation.

The interior takes inspiration from contemporary bookstore concepts, so readers of all ages will surely be amazed by its multiple reading spaces, cafe, and retail areas which are housed in different floors. Currently, the library contains over 800,000 items that include books, magazines, audio books, and DVDs, but it also boasts lots of natural elements, such as an indoor tree in a courtyard.

Starfield Library – Seoul, South Korea

South Korea is a tourist’s paradise for its food, culture, and wonderful attractions, and one of the top destinations in the country is the Starfield Library, which is right in the heart of the COEX Mall. The two-story space features 13-meter tall curved bookshelves that extend all the way to the ceiling. The shelves hold about 70,000 books, as well as about a thousand magazines and celebrity-focused reading materials. The first floor has e-readers for anyone to use, while the second floor has easily accessible books lining the outer shelves. Not all the books on display are real though, as some that are placed on the highest shelves are decorative boxes designed to look like books. This detail doesn’t seem to bother the locals though as you can see them taking selfies near the shelves, along with international tourists who are doing the same thing.

There are lots of places to sit and read, so you can use the study desks or benches, whichever you prefer. The only thing that makes Starfield different from other libraries is that you can’t check out the books here, so make sure to return the books or magazines where you got them or place them in the book carts that you’ll see around the area.

Stuttgart City Library – Stuttgart, Germany

Germany is home to some of the most beautiful and historic libraries in the world, including the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, the Library Bad Schussenried, and the Library of the Monastery in Waldsassen. But while these places feature antique and elaborately gilded interiors, one library that’s getting a lot of raves from modern design fans is the Stuttgart City Library. When viewed from the outside, the building looks extremely ordinary since it resembles a single square cube of gray concrete with 81 evenly spaced frosted glass bricks on every side of it. But upon entering the library, people marvel at its clean and minimalist aesthetic since the interiors– from the ceiling, floors, staircases, and shelves– are completely white. The only colors you’ll see are the ones on the covers of the books, so being there feels like you’re in a movie that’s set in the future. It’s likely that the designers from Yi Architects had this effect in mind when they built the library as one of the inspirations for the building’s design is Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which was released in theaters in 1968.

The whole space is shaped like a square, and all the shelves line the walls of the five-story building. Natural light floods the entire space as sunlight comes in from the glass roof, and staircases take you from one floor to the next. There are reading benches on each floor, although if you prefer a more private reading area, you can find some around the periphery for a more comfortable reading experience. Some people may find the Stuttgart Library to be too sterile, but fans of contemporary design love it since it has a clean and calming aesthetic. What’s more, others consider it as  the perfect place to take pictures for an Instagram feed.

Some of the best libraries in the world feature modern designs where thousands upon thousands of books are displayed on towering shelves or multiple floors for the public to enjoy. These contemporary libraries with vertical designs are truly worth a visit, so drop by any of these places and be amazed by these sanctuaries for book lovers.

We will be back with another interesting article from the library world soon!

Want more insights from libraries across the world?

Subscribe to our blog to receive new library insights directly to your e-mail.

Nina Grant

Nina is a passionate writer and editor who likes to cover a variety of topics.

Recent posts