POC+P architects

POC+P architects

Sydney, AU


The Re-Imagined Library : Daegu Gosan Library Competition

Re-imaging the [local] library of tomorrow


Inspiration is the feeling of beginning as the threshold where Silence and Light meet. Silence, the unmeasurable, desire to be, desire to express, the source of new need, meets Light, the measurable, giver of all presence, by will, by law, the measure of things already made, as a threshold which is inspiration, the sanctuary of art, the Treasury of Shadow. Louis Kahn [1901-1974]


The design of the Daegu Gosan Library combines four archetypes across space and culture into a new metropolitan symbol: the square, the verandah, the shrine and the courtyard are merged in a simple but powerful form. The grounded-ness of the square, the sheltered path of the verandah, the sanctity of the shrine and the central void of the courtyard are combined to create a new sub-metropolitan library that is open and closed, light and dark, contemporary and timeless, singular and universal at the same time. A metaphor of interchange + connectedness.

This library design unashamedly embraces books as an enduring tool of knowledge transfer. Just as historically the medium has evolved from roll to codex, from papyrus to vellum, from printed paper to digital, who can say what will surpass the e-library of today? The form may change, the content will change, however the purpose remains enduring and constant- the free exchange of information. The bibliotheque/library has continued to evolve- soon the book-to-digital ratio will be a spent argument. Accordingly we have chosen to design less determined floor plates. It can be, and will be something else tomorrow. It is not hard-wired.

Traditionally libraries evolved from monastic realms to places for the common good accessible to layman and scholar alike. A democratic place that does not discriminate: that invites, holds interest, challenges and embraces, a place for learning both formal and unconscious. A library is the social repository of memory and knowledge.

Opposition and balance is explored as in light and dark, black and white. At the prosaic level, the library functions as a cutting-edge place and as a retreat from busy Daegu. A more poetic level, this library is a filter that mediates between light and silence, the inner top-lit [heavenward] space of the main hall of the Inner Library with its ‘bracket’ derived hanging blades and the lateral-lit vertical slots of light through Atrium. As the library patron traverses from the street level to the upper level, there is a sense of moving into a special realm, a quieter, more contemplative zone conducive to reading and learning.

Economy of Means
Built to a budget, the Library is therefore strategic with respect to its emphases. For non-discriminatory access [and ease of book relocation] a lift is considered essential. For minimizing wasted space and additional services, a basement carpark + ramp is eliminated. For economy of means, one simple compact volume is created that reduces the perimeter façade area rather than separate/differentiated volumes.  For sustainable reasons, all glass is shaded with a system of exo-slats that allows for informal stack venting rather than a thermally superior but more expensive double façade system.

City anchor
Daegu Gosan Library is committed to its role as a city builder. The Library Learning Centre will be the face of the Suseong-u district on Dalgubeol main road. The building’s exciting, generous and progressive presence will engage and enliven the immediate area. It will both animate and anchor this corner within the diverse city grid of Daegu.

Open space in this city is at a premium- this is the library in the urban forest- a veritable mountain of knowledge. A clearly accessible entry plaza will draw patrons and visitors into the 3100sqm stand-alone building and connect the corner and pedestrian crossings to the main foyer of the Library Learning Centre.

The three-storey building will feature bright, open, technologically rich, barrier-free spaces for individual and collaborative research, learning and study. A variety of learning environments, digital support and librarian services will promote student and citizen life-long learning success and help foster a culture of collaboration and creativity. In essence, the building will be its own neighbourhood.

Every floor will have its own personality driven by the program and unique spatial and experiential opportunities located there. Some space pods will be as open and interpretive as possible. Other space will be densely filled with enclosed study + carrel rooms. The top floor will encourage independent, quiet reading, study and contemplation.

Visitors first discover the library pavilion as a quiet, warm object in the city- illuminated from within. From the street, it is a garden oasis. A large green void on the east shelters the pavilion: an immediate change of pace from the vibrant city of Daegu. The main entrance, protected by a cantilevered canopy, provides visitors with both a visual connection and access to the side garden, where they can sit on the urban seat, inside and out. The pavilion's façade is composed of open slatted wood, which filters light from the garden through the interior glass façade into the main waiting area.

To enter, visitors traverse a direct path above the verandah, through an air-lock sanctuary to arrive at the reception. From this point, they are directed to the reading areas, resource areas and exhibition/education classrooms. Visitors will find increasingly intimate spaces with finer layers of zonal activity.

As in a traditional Korean courtyard house the most significant space is the timber floored main hall. A series of reading and lounging platforms tiered  down to the basement which leads to the lower Exhibition space with its outlook to an externally lit plaza/court relief space – with water pool. When it is in use the space is transformed by drawing lotus embellished curtains made in Daegu  [ justly famous for its textile tradition now for its fashion zeal]  or folding screens [ chaekgori reflecting the 8 Confucian virtues]

Height and transparency create expansive yet comfortable spaces. The interplay of shadows, and sounds of trickling water and wind through rustling leaves of the green wall set a positive calming tone of what feels more like a retreat than a Library centre.

The eastern side of the centre comprises general  and periodical areas, staff support and administrative zones are generally on the west. While the pavilion spaces lead naturally to the library's public areas like the cafeteria, below this there is technical zone connects to Preservation areas and supports library services and utilities. Librarians, researchers and visitor work/relax in quiet, collaborative spaces. Interface areas, some of which facilitate family interaction, carefully fuse internal and public spaces.


Central library chamber trove/chest/temple/shrine/salon
Cloaked in white birch lumber and warm colors, the two-storey inner library- the library within stands out for its mix of materials: pinewood, gold leaf, and ceramics are used throughout the zone, in patterns echoing traditional Korean designs in a contemporary interpretation.

Interchange between levels, interpolated, is dynamic  and experiential.
The final look matches the Library's style based on color, tactile sensations and decorations at a crossroads of tradition and modernity.


The dynamic transparency of the façade layers opens the buildings activities to street life.  It is an open frame providing a canvas/screen for displays conveying a changing visual message to passer-bys.  The external treatment of the facade of the pavilion is an elegant sheltering ‘wrap’. Exterior shading of the upper glazed levels is achieved through a timber slat and blade louvre system within vertical fins.

The transparent glass “skin” of the building where exposed to view will be given a surface treatment known as a frit pattern [ in the pattern of spruces and conifers- to emphasize its delicate nature] to create varying lighting qualities within the interior. Visitors will be able to find a space to study in direct sunlight or in more diffuse lighting.

The vertical fins will use a natural Korean birch which creates a variation in colour. The natural variation in colour will be taken advantage of to lift the facade of the building and give it life. It will not appear flat. The colour of the vertical blades has been chosen to reflect the changing colours of the being in light and being in shade. The sharp blue-black external face colour of the blade will change during the day and across seasons. The interior white face modulates the interior as reflected light hits them from the glazed facade, sometimes appearing pale yellow, sometimes green-ish from the internal planting. The sides for the blades are natural clear finished timber.

The balconies are to be clad in oiled korean hardwood and will complement the terracotta tiles. The balustrades are to have oiled hardwood tops with 'Evergreen' glazed panels. These choices of materials respond directly to the long history of the vernacular timber buildings in the district, such as the temples and structures. All of the materials are natural so will soften over time and will weather gracefully. The materials can also be sourced locally to reduce the embodied energy of the building.

Climate and Sustainability
The proposal has been driven by strong principles of environmental and sustainable design. The systems used are numerous, integral and across all levels of the design. Some examples of actions taken to respond to and utilise climate to maximise the sustainability of the project are as follows;
• One simple compact volume oriented to the 4 cardinal points rather than separate/differentiated volumes  reduces the perimeter façade enabling shallow floorplans maximize available natural light and minimizes the footprint

• The concrete framed construction system uses a renewable resource and reduces the need for site disturbance and significantly reduces the number of concrete piers that will be required and therefore limit ground disturbance in this sensitive urban area.

• The design and layout of the building reduces energy consumption by maximising access to natural ventilation and providing excellent penetration of natural light to library spaces.

• Bigass Ceiling fans in the atrium, heavy insulation and performance glazing make the most of the temperate climate enjoyed in Daegu to keep reading spaces comfortable and significantly reduce reliance upon mechanical heating and cooling systems. Due to these devices being employed smaller more efficient mechanical systems can be used that utilise a complex building management system that allows individual spaces within levels to be heated and cooled with automatic switching to economy/fresh air cycles when exterior temperatures are suitable.

• Areas are given over to vertical service risers to allow natural stack cooling to occur through all the levels and corridors.

• Careful design of vertical circulation in the building provides equal access to all areas whilst offering users of the building the choice of taking naturally lit stairs or the lifts.

• Rainwater is to be collected and stored onsite and used in landscaping and toilets.

• No basement carparking minimize excavation cost, interference with ground water levels

• Rooftop thermal solar water heating and PV rooftop  are integrated with 50 % of the roof plane

• Double skin façade on south – a multi-layered glazed façade creates a screen wall  with folding external shade screens

• locally sourced materials- milled sustainable harvested timber [ pine and birch] ; ceramic; polished vitreous enamel ; fabrics and tapestries reduces the embodied energy

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Daegu, KR
Firm Role: Project Leader
Additional Credits: Ivana Simikovic, Architect; Katie Yeung, Graduate in Architecture.