Since the emergence of the first human civilization, cultural evolution has relied architecturally on archives and libraries to facilitate the trans-generational passing of information between individuals. However, technological advancements have forced architects to rethink the role of the built environment in this rapid shift of culture from the analog to the digital.
Situated at the intersection between Shanghai’s old and new town, the Möbius Library, on the parallel, re-investigates whether the 21st century library should remain as a public institution with a physical archive of books, or rather, re-assigned to become a social intellectual incubator that caters spaces for the physical knowledge exchange between individuals, while nested within the vast virtual storage of multimedia resources.
The peninsula site sandwiched between the traditional LiLong housing compound and the newly renovated cultural center, 1933 Slaughterhouse, calls for a mediation space that buffers the programmatic clash, while fostering high degrees of connectivity with its urban surroundings. The Möbius Library hence engages the gentle curvature of the peninsula and wraps itself into a loop that invites entry from all directions to attract the public like a spiral force field of spontaneous human encounters.
By employing the structural capacity of concrete shells, the Möbius Library takes advantage of the shell undulation to create an infinite loop of archive that not only circulates the public to the levitated working spaces, rooftop terrace and multimedia lab, but morphs multiple entries from all directions to the sunken exhibition, cafe, and lecture spaces, provoking and stimulating intellectual interactions. By varying the slopes of the slab undulation, degrees of privacy emerges to accommodate balconies accessed from the main working area, as well as offices and back of house spaces.
The Möbius Library serves as an experimental architecture that questions and redefines the 21st century library and the transforming role of our built environment in the wake of this digital overtake.