Are you into books? Maybe a fan of architecture? Are you big on engineering marvels? If you answered yes to any of those, then there's a pretty good chance you've heard of the Tianjin Binhai library in Tianjin, China. If not, you're about to, and you can thank us for it later.
Tianjin Binhai is a five-story monster of a structure with shelf space for well over a million books. What makes this library so unique, aside from the sheer scale of it, is the design. It's gorgeous, but is it functional — and does that matter?
Check out this video:
Let's go back and review that number. When we said it had shelf space for well over a million books, we weren't lying. The problem is that a significant portion of those shelves are totally unusable. There's no system in place to access shelves floating five stories in the air or lining the ceilings. There is no cherry-picker, no librarian with a magic ladder, and no robotic arm to grab books.
In fact, the books you see on those impossible-to-reach shelves are fake — they're decorative panels placed there by the architect and designer. If you watch the video you can see that even on many of the lower, accessible shelves, the books are just a decorative backsplash. The library has shelf space for 1.2 million books, but only about 200,000 are real. The other million are fake.
For some, the lack of functionality is a deal breaker, and they're not wrong. Shelves you can't access are just dust collectors.
I like libraries and books but this does not look inviting at all. It looks more artsy than functional. 😪— Broken Anchor (@broken_anchor) March 19, 2018
can somebody get me a book of the top shelf,,,,,,,,,,,ANYBODY ha ha— regie shaw (@billabongo12) March 19, 2018
Sooo... Most of the books are not real and the rest are censored? Plenty of opportunities for selfies tho.😕— Chris Burke☕ (@MGCTwest) March 19, 2018
It was cool until they said not all the books are real. What’s the point?! Why not just have books there instead of fake ones. Don’t know why when I read that it pissed me off and lost the magic I felt when I first strted watching this.— Sandy Know (@SandyKnow1) March 19, 2018
For others, the place is a marvel. They're not wrong, either. We can barely build a Lego tower, so there's no way we could have designed or built anything like this!
Besides, 200,000 is still a LOT of books.
I want to go up to the top and look at the books there. What an architectural feat. And in the name of learning.— David M. Garens (@2gatorindo) March 18, 2018
Wow! I had no idea someone had already designed & built my dream home, books n all! Where do I sign the mortgage?— Chantel Lysette (@thearchangels) March 20, 2018
This is a beautiful building, and dedicated to education and learning! I want to take my daughter to visit.— Evil Monkey (@Fantasy_Yoda) March 19, 2018
Either way, the library has become a popular tourist destination, as you can see in the video. People are flocking to spend their day reading and snapping pictures in this incredible space.
Which side of the debate do you fall on? Is it wasted space or an architectural marvel? Maybe both? Sound off in the comments.