BIG to design Kazakhstan’s National Library

Aug 26, 2009
  • Article by Online Editor

Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an open international competition to design the new National Library of Kazakhstan, beating entries from 19 other firms, including Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid.

The new National Library, named after the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, will be built in the city of Astana. The design, a structure of around 33,000m2, was commended for being modern and rational, using the classical vocabulary of traditional libraries.

The loop form of the winning design takes the shape of a Moebius strip, meaning that the building transforms from a horizontal organisation to a vertical organisation at different points of the structure. By wrapping the building in a continuous skin, BIG have created a volume where the facades move from inside to outside and back again.

Founding partner Bjarke Ingels explained the firm’s concept, saying, “the design of the National Library combines four universal archetypes across space and time into a new national symbol: the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt are merged into the form of a Moebius strip. The clarity of the circle, the courtyard of the rotunda, the gateway of the arch and the soft silhouette of the yurt are combined to create a new national monument appearing local and universal, contemporary and timeless, unique and archetypal at the same time.”

It is hoped that the library will become a landmark that represents the Kazakh national identity. Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, and its new library will provide a place to research the country’s history, diverse cultures, the nation’s capital and its first president.

Light from the central courtyard will flood the interior of the library, and visitors will have a panoramic view of Astana from the interior. The land surrounding the library will be landscaped, and visitors will be able to move seamlessly from the outside, through to the central courtyard and into the spaces of the library.

*Team* Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Project Leader: Thomas Christoffersen, Team: Amy Campbell, Jakob Henke, Johan Cool, Jonas Barre, Daniel Sundlin

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