Library architecture needs to be both innovative and relaxing for the user. The users often associate strong emotional connections with library spaces as the space is used as a gathering point, area of exploring and learning. 

A library, which may vary widely in size, maybe organized for use and maintained by a public body such as a government, an institution, schools, a corporation, or a private individual. In addition to providing materials, libraries also provide the services of librarians who are trained and experts at finding, selecting, circulating, and organizing information and at interpreting information needs, navigating, and analyzing very large amounts of information with a variety of resources. Hence, librarians go the extra mile to meet the user’s needs by ensuring that their users are satisfied with the information provided. A Librarian is one person who is expected to be very vibrant and innovative especially in this digital world. Library buildings often provide quiet and conducive areas for studying, as well as common areas for group study and collaboration, and may provide public facilities for access to their electronic resources for instance Computers and Desktops, and access to the Internet.

Architects need to follow many guidelines while designing a library as it needs to fulfill the needs of all age groups. Here are 15 iconic Libraries in India:  

1. Lilavati Lalbhai Library, Ahmedabad by RMA Architects | Libraries in India

Rahul Mehrotra’s vision for this iconic building goes deeper than its visible louver facade. The Lilavati Lalbhai Library reimagines the School’s philosophy reinforced by its founder BV Doshi. With a futuristic approach to academia and a choice-based curriculum, the entire 31000 square metres of mass placed at -4m and -8m respectively aligns contextually to its surroundings. This open plan of solid concrete mass has entrances from all 4 cardinal directions emphasizing a sense of openness that caters to extreme climatic conditions. 

The louvred windows can be manually accessed allowing sufficient light to pour in. With exclusive reading rooms, exhibition spaces, individual carrels administrative offices, and seminar halls this library stand as a modern typology of a library catering to the Architectural fraternity.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet1
Lilavati Lalbhai Library _©  worldarchitecture.org 

2. Connemara Public Library, Chennai by H.Irving

This library serves as a depository for the UN. This 19th-century red building with a bold elliptical semi-circular end is an excellent example of the Indo-Saracenic style of Architecture. The most exquisite detail of this building is its main hall, which has a truncated wooden roof with coloured glass pieces cemented onto its curved surfaces. Marble slabs ornamented with Acanthus leaves were brought in from Buckingham Canal in boats. 

In 2006, 2.1 crores were spent renovating the library. To accommodate an increased stock book a 3 storey building has been built alongside the old building. This library houses 8,50,000 books in Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujrati, and English, it is also a repository of centuries-old publications.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet2
Interior View Of Library _© _Indian express

3. State Central Library, Bengaluru by Sir K. Seshadri Iyer

Built-in 1905 to commemorate Bengaluru’s longest-serving Dewan of Mysore State, Sir K Sheshadri Iyer. This building was paid for by money donated by the Public. Between 1908-1920 parts of the building were rented for non-public purposes. It housed tennis courts, an educational museum and was used by the Bangalore club as well. A restaurant in the 1920s had a thriving business as well. The Apsidal plan for this building follows many different architectural styles. 

With wooden roofs going about 14m in height, prominent Dutch Gables, Indian motifs, and Granite pillars adorn in its details. Large arched windows in the outer facade were once open arches from its early photographs. A bronze statue of the Dewan is located in front of the building. This building once stood independently; currently, it’s within the Cubbon park’s premises. With a rich contribution from the public, this building is identified as one of the iconic buildings of Old Bengaluru.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet3
Exterior VIew _©  lbb.in/bangalore/state-central-library/

4. Allahabad Public Library, Prayagraj by Richard Roskell Bayne

Also popularly known as Thornhill Mayne Memorial. The building follows Scottish Baronial architecture built-in 1864. It once served as a house of the legislative assembly during British rule in India. The building contains sharp pillars and turrets of granite and sandstone, it also represents structural polychromy with lofty flowers and arcaded cloisters. 

The structure of the building follows the Gothic style. The objective of the library was to promote the social, economic, academic, cultural, political, and spiritual development of its people. Oriental Hall, New Hall, Newspaper Room, Research Hall, Computer Hall, Reprography Hall are embedded within this building that further encourages people to use the library.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet4
Exterior View of Library _© TheArchitectureReviewMayaSomaiya

5. Maya Somaiya Library, Kopargaon by Sameep Padora + Associates (SP+A) | Libraries in India

This re-interpretation of the famous Catalan vault has been used very judicially by (SP+A), sandwiched between 2 buildings, in Shri Sharda School. This parametric roof that expands over 5750 square feet is made of three layers of 20mm brick tiles held together by mortar taking care of all the 140 tonnes of self-weight. This structure was developed by the Block Research Group at the ETH to better understand the compressive and tensile capacity of the structure. 

The formwork used for this structure has been re-used by the firm in other projects, making it sustainable in its utility. This library connects two playgrounds which most strategically places the library at a perfect juxtaposition between academia and its outdoors. The entrance to the library not only flows with the form but also streamlines light entering the structure. The interiors of the library are scaled to its users who would enjoy spending time within this dynamic framework amongst an informal seating area. 

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet5
Plan of Maya Somaiya Library _© TheArchitectureReviewMayaSomaiya
Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet6
Interior View _© TheArchitectureReview-May Somaiya

6. Yogananda Library, Solan by Sourabh Gupta

The play of solid and void found in library shelves has been extended into the planning of the Yogananda Library building in Shoolini University Solan. This is a four-storey structure interconnected with solids and voids following its geography. With a central courtyard in the centre, access to all its levels is through a shaded staircase that runs parallel to the building. It reflects the school’s philosophy which deals with biotechnology. 

Seating within this building opens out towards the valley or towards the green terrace where the courtyard opens out. Light in this respect pours into all its circulation spaces. All the circulation spaces are painted yellow contrasting the grey form of all the bookshelves. This gives a renewed sense of freshness and plays into the building. Last but one the most interesting part of this library is its entrance facade, which has two layers; one that houses the shelves for books; and another facade that conceals the criss-cross columns.

 

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet7
Yogananda library _© AndreJFanthome

7. National Library of India: a Journey, Kolkata by Lord Curzon 

Unlike the Colonists that ruled India, The National Library of India Kolkata was in the business of lending books to all people irrespective of class, colour, and nationality. It ran on a self-financing principle. In 1836 the library merged with the imperial library under Lord Curzon. The library extends over 30 acres, having over 3 million collections of books. 

The building most ardently exhibits colonial architecture with tall pillars and arches. The white building contrasts with green shutters placed at the windows. Classical elements like the grandfather clock, fire-places add to the library’s colonial charm. Embedded within lush greenery all around, this building calls out readers like a moth to a flame.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet8
national library__© timesofindia

8. Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur by Serfoji II

The library was founded in medieval India for the Nayak kings. This Library in Thanjavur was established by the Maratha king and scholar Serfoji II in (1798-1832). Here lies ancient manuscripts were written on palm leaves from North India, in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, English with over 60,000 volumes. This building stands as an independent structure within the Palace premises. 

Adorned with painting on its huge arches and vaults, the divinity of this medieval world library goes beyond its structure. With the diversity of manuscripts ranging from ancient Sanskrit to modern medicine and cure, the library served as a treasure house of information that was futuristic for its time. 

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet9
Street View of Mahal Library _© saraswati-mahal-library tanjore info

9. Asiatic Society of Mumbai Library, Mumbai by Colonel Thomas Cowper

This library is one of the last remnants of Victorian Mumbai. Its belief was to uphold research and preserve art, literature, and sciences. Built-in 1833, this building was inspired by Greek and Roman styles. The entrance is a classical Grecian portico with doric pillars above a flight of 30 stars. 

The stones for this building’s construction were imported from Britain. With wooden flooring, spiral staircases, and terraces supported by Wrought iron, the building expressed neo-classical style. 

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet10
Asiatic Library-_© LBB
Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet11
asiaticlibrary-_© LBB

10. Raza Library, Rampur (Uttar Pradesh) by W.C. Wright | Libraries in India

This Indo-Islamic heritage library built-in 1774 is home to 60,000 printed books, 3000 calligraphy scripts, and ancient texts from Medina, Egypt, Mecca, and Iran. This high domed and turreted mansion has elements of Victorian Gothic elements as well. Durbar halls with canopied ceilings adorned in gold add grandeur to this library. 

Italian sculpture placed in the hall tells us about the diversity of the built structure from the Eastside of the world all the way to the west.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet12
Raza library-_© DesignPataki

11. Trivandrum Public Library, Kerala by Colonel Edward Cadogan

This red brick and the white stone gothic-style library were earlier made exclusively for the ruler of the then Kerala King Swathi Thirunal of Travancore. One of the most exquisite highlights of the building is the wooden staircase with a carved balustrade that leads to the first floor. This humble building merges with its surroundings, blending harmoniously. 

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet13
Kerala state library-_© WordPress
Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet14
State Central Library-_© The Victorian web

12. David Sassoon Library, Mumbai by J. Campbell and GE Gostling

This building follows the Venetian-style Gothic revival form. With high, pointed gable and pinnacles on the roof, there are iron balustrades Den tilled on the ledges on the verandah on the first floor. Like the Gothic phrase goes ‘Let there be light’ this building gets focused sunlight in its reading rooms befitting its style perfectly.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet15
David-sasoon-library-_© Townmumbai
 15 Iconic Projects Sheet16
David Sassoon Library-_© DestiMap

13. State Central Library Hyderabad by Aziz Ali

Spread across 6800 square metres in the area, this library is located on the banks of River Musi. Built-in the year 1890 its houses both print books and ancient manuscripts. This building stands as an icon of architecture and culture.

15 Iconic Projects Sheet17
StateCentralLibrary Telengana-_© LBB

14. Vikram Sarabhai Library by Louis Khan and BV Doshi

Standing as one of the most prominent buildings in IIM Ahmedabad due to its architectural style and red brick colour. It exhibits timelessness and monumentality by fusing traditional vernacular architecture with modern architecture principles. The harmony between the large geometrical openings and exposed red bricks provides an interesting play of open and void in the entire built structure.

Libraries in India: 15 Iconic Projects Sheet18
Vikram Sarabhai Library_© The WIMWIAN – IIM Ahmedabad
15 Iconic Projects Sheet19
Vikram Sarabhai Library_© flickr

15. Jawaharlal Kala Kendra by Charles Correa | Libraries in India

Built across 3000 square metres, this building was inspired by the city planning of Jaipur which consists of 9 squares with an open central square. The navgrah concept exhibits vital energy, quality, and functionality to each of the planets. The purpose of this building is to display India’s cultural and spiritual values.

 15 Iconic Projects Sheet20
Jawaharlal Kala Kendra-_© ArchitectureUpdate
15 Iconic Projects Sheet21
Jawaharlal Kala Kendra-_© architectopedia

References

  1. Isca.in. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://www.isca.in/RJLS/Archive/v3/i9/1.ISCA-RJLS-2015-028.pdf> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  2. Meera Iyer. (2019). Discovering Bengaluru: Intach Bengaluru Chapter. 
  3. Architecturalrecord.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/13811-central-library-by-sn%C3%B8hetta-and-dialog> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  4. ArchDaily. 2021. Yogananda Library / Sourabh Gupta. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/770435/yogananda-library-sourabh-gupta> [Accessed 2 August 2021]. 
  5. Srivathsan, A., Srivathsan, A., Richards, J., Prizeman, O., Cohn, D., Woodman, E., Editors, A., Mackenzie, A., Priestman, M., Editors, A., Ayers, A., Mollard, M., Mattern, S., Williams, A., Slessor, C., Burte, H. and Ashraf, K., 2021. All in the mound: Maya Somaiya Library in Kopargaon, India, by Sameep Padora + Associates – Architectural Review. [online] Architectural Review. Available at: <https://www.architectural-review.com/buildings/all-in-the-mound-maya-somaiya-library-in-kopargaon-india-by-sameep-padora-associates> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  6. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.indiaculture.nic.in/national-library-india> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  7. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.indiaculture.nic.in/thanjavur-mah-serfojis-sarawswathi-mahal-library-thanjavur> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  8. Mumbai.org.uk. 2021. Town Hall Mumbai – History & Architecture. [online] Available at: <https://www.mumbai.org.uk/tourist-attractions/town-hall.html> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  9. mettle, food!, delicious, lightly, go, cheers, donations?…, Mamata…, Provider…, hand?…, Faced with fiscal challenge, B. and Covid’…, 2021. A unique repository. [online] Deccan Herald. Available at: <https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-articulations/a-unique-repository-774739.html> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  10. En.wikipedia.org. 2021. State Central Library – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Central_Library> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  11. Victorianweb.org. 2021. State Central Library, Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). [online] Available at: <https://victorianweb.org/history/empire/india/trivandrum/6.html> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  12. Internet Archive. 2021. The Travancore state manual : Travancore (India) : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive. [online] Available at: <https://archive.org/details/travancorestate00aiyagoog/page/n14/mode/2up> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  13. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.lsrsa.edu.in/Re-citing-Libraries.pdf> [Accessed 2 August 2021].
Author

An architect and innovator, Tanisha sees Architecture not as a single entity, rather as a confluence of people, in their time and its lasting imprint left for future explorers to further delve into. In her words, 'Expression is an act of acceptance, either to thyself or the world.

Write A Comment