Kikuchi City Central Library, Kumamoto

Designed by: Kazunobu Nakamura / NOMURA Co., Ltd.
For client: Kikuchi city Floor area: 1700.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: 年度市政空间

Public Score
4.96 Function
4.94 Innovation
4.93 Creativity

About the Project

This library was built in Kikuchi City in Kumamoto Prefecture, a city with an abundance of water and many canyons. The Kikuchi River is an important part of the city’s identity, so we designed our space around 100m long bookshelves with a curved shape invoking an image of a flowing river. We named these gigantic bookshelves a “book river ”.
The gigantic shelves wind through the building, dividing it into different spaces. The book river begins in the children’s room, with low shelves enclosing the space. The “river” swells as it enters the main library area, gradually forming a dense area that subtly surrounds patrons with books. The book river leads patrons to areas with different atmospheres, through a progression that always feels natural.
We even created 13 holes in the shelves to emulate the way waterfalls and rocks add interesting differences to the flow of a river. The holes provide places to sit, pass through, come closer or look through, creating interactions between patrons and the shelves and thus between patrons and the books themselves.
This design turns the library into one big area like square where patrons can find the area that feels most comfortable for them at any given time.

What’s unique about it

In Kikuchi City Central Library, the shelves make the space and create all kinds of places for patrons to spend time, just as a river creates a variety of landscapes in the area around it.
We noticed was that the vast majority of conventional libraries’ space designs mainly consisted of floor, wall and ceiling design. The bookshelf designs are the same all over the world, with every library space structured around this uniform layout. We decided to break this mold and design bookshelves that patrons could engage with on a tactile level.
The book river has a skeleton of iron columns. Programming technology was used to convert the designer’s hand drawing of the curved lines into a series of arcs, and the iron columns were placed throughout the structure to give it enough strength while still enabling the complex shape. The shelves are as tall as the walls in places and are designed without a backboard, letting in light and glimpses of areas all around the library. At first glance, the space seems to be divided by the shelves, but when you look more closely, the role of these shelves is actually to gently create connections.
This design allows the library to be connected as one large space. And the library will always be a lively civic square.

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