The city of Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. The city is a transitional zone between the west flatland and east mountainous area. By its locational and regional aspects, the city has gone through many historical events along with the rapid development of the country. As the development has started from late 1900’s until now, the modern architecture has been placed past 30 years. Hence, the urban fabric present is relatively modernistic, as it also embraces a range from small scale to large scale housings; public and private architecture; especially vast natural farmlands and mountains around. Among this context, the new downtown area as a part of the competition is centered on how nature of the city is able to offer a new story on this urban framework.

Project Name: Gwangju City Main Library
Studio Name: TheeAe Limited
Location: South Korea

©️TheeAe Limited

The architecture of this urban area is well clothed by the mix of modernistic and traditional form of architecture. Pitched and sloped roofs, siding panels, stone finished wall, red bricked façade, painted housing complex wall, etc. Since the new city main library is an institutional structure that is highly valued by the local community, it is a prominent location next to the main spatial landmark, Sangmu Sculpture Park, and Sangmu Citizen Park, and 5.18 Freedom Park. Its location is at the intersection of Cheon Byeun Jwaharo and Sangmu Nuriro. This adds extra importance on the new City Main Library building which will be seen by any passing through the city passengers.

The strong feature of the site is located at the front of Cheon Byeun Juaharo, a wide pedestrian zone defined by Gwangju Creek. This urban feature is the major importance for the composition concept, because it belongs to the pedestrian network that links surrounding building areas and acts as a gathering place for the new downtown of the city of Gwangju and the new library. Therefore, it becomes an opportunity for the new library building to bring this open public square in front, by fostering most of activities, events and exhibitions to communities.

©️TheeAe Limited


In order to succeed today, libraries must offer many different roles. Some are to be associated with conventional functions of libraries and some not. Their new, multi-faceted missions must be supported with great design, strong amenities, and popular programs. When everything works together, the library becomes places that anchor community life and bring people together. To fulfill these possibilities as a community main anchored location, our design intention shall match with program architecturally and contextually.

Because libraries tend to be centrally located within neighborhoods, they are ideal places to offer numerous community service from childcare to job placement to income tax advice to university extension courses. These types of community offerings are a crucial part of the mix for libraries seeking to become multi-use destinations. The new city main library in Gwangju shall include children, disabilities and elderly reading materials sections, as well as physical training, multi-purpose room, club rooms, and cultural education area, and furthermore exhibition space for neighbors and communities in the city. Designing of these functions has to focus on well distribution of space by easy accesses to build up intimate relationships throughout the connection of the space. Especially we tend to create void connections toward each individual section to interact together through interior space not just by opening only but to give the open views each other.

©️TheeAe Limited


Overall, there are 3 major programs; ONE, a restricted area, such as storage, exhibition, office, physical training area; TWO, open area for public, general and periodicals materials, and handicapped, elderly, infants and children reading materials and common reception lobby; THREE, a controlled area, cultural education classroom, club room and multi-purpose room. Therefore, to design most rational and functional space, we begin allocating major programs by stacking each program to associate with the public open space. The architectural form of public space is simply segregated and sandwiched between the restricted area and controlled area. This separation is further allocated into two ways; vertically and horizontally. At the end, we transform them into one inclined/ sloped open space to enhance interior connectivity as well as visual appearance from outside.

Functionally and visually, public space of the library connects outdoor landscape to lobby & reception area. Visitors experience transitional moments of outdoor and indoor space through various approaches. Furthermore, they will extend their journey from the lobby to the top floor enjoying a great view of nature all around. The views offered from this journey are diverse in many ways based on visitors’ footsteps. Along with it, public seating areas are well prepared for people to read or take a moment to respond their spontaneous needs to explore deeper knowledge from books and nature.

©️TheeAe Limited

We believe the new city main library is to be more than ordinary. By offering reading materials and space, it will grant public to enjoy dynamic experience through inclined open windows. They are a partition of interior and exterior but it will offer infinite views from in and out of the space for people to meditate and relax to gain knowledge unexpectedly. In this way, we would like to increase library functions in full to offers back its entire structure to the community.


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