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Library of Songdo

Songdo, S. Korea


Type: Cultural Institution

Size: 101,400 sf

Project Text

Homi Bhabha’s concept of “third space”, which acknowledges nuanced conditions of hybridity and diversity in cultural identity, as a conceptual platform upon which to build a contemporary library. Whereas traditional libraries represent an absolute space designed to fulfill a single sociocultural function, “third space” is indeterminate, open to appropriation, playful and generative. The library as third space resists traditional librarian concepts and classification systems, which are often biased by Western philosophy and can too rigidly structure the use of library space. It can accommodate the multiple paradoxes embedded in the 21st C. library:

“the World Wide Web is a library but libraries continue to perform pivotal civic, educational and economic roles; information is readily at our fingertips, but we still need help navigating its past, present and future multiply versioned formats; we love solitary and mobile modes of study and work as much as we need places for collaboration, random interactions and discoveries.

This project explores the architectural opportunities to manifest these pluralistic modes of intellectual and physical production by organizing space around 3 “Spatial Shelves.”  

1— The Central Collective Space, a space of books and void. 

2 — The in-between Circulatory Space, a space, a space of movement and linearity. 

3 — The Programed Space, a space of rooms, repose, and utility. 

This layering of three concepts of spatial use, organization, and flexibility influence all other aspects of the design from materiality to lighting. 



Seth McDowell


©mcdowellespinosa architects

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