The World's Most Spectacular Libraries (...Never Built)

There are some pretty amazing libraries out there. Here are a few others which - although equally awesome - don't actually exist.

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1. National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan

Bjarke Ingels Group / Via

The design included an Escher-esque Möbius strip which would have allowed visitors to explore the spiralling rooftop.

Not built because?...

The architects - Bjarke Ingels Group - pulled out, having encountered bribery and corruption.

2. The Eye Over Prague, Czech Republic

Jan Kaplický/Future Systems / Via

Loosely resembling something out of Day of the Tentacle, the design of this proposed national library (affectionately known as the "blob" or "octopus") has sparked controversy.

Not built because?...

The late Jan Kaplický's design has become the subject of political wrangling.

On the plus side, it still hasn't been ruled out entirely...

3. JF Rauzier’s Bibliothèque idéale

JF Rauzier / Via

JF Rauzier has created a series of stunning and incredibly detailed imaginary and idealised libraries.

Not built because?...

Aside from the obvious lack of protection from the elements, the large piles of seemingly unordered tomes in the foreground just don't lend themselves to effective information retrieval!

4. Wall of Knowledge, Stockholm

Architecture School of Paris La Seine / Via

Sweden's hypothetical "Library of the Future" created for the International Competition of Architecture.

Not built because?...

There would be structural challenges involved, for one thing. It'd be massively costly too. Then there's health and safety to consider, yada yada... Nice idea, though!

5. Extension of Asplund's Library, Stockholm

3XN / Via

Yes, Stockholm again! This "carpet" was entered into an architectural competition in 2007.

Not built because?...

This extension to the Asplund library had a better chance of being built than the (basically impossible...) Wall of Knowledge above but floundered due to the expense of the project and local objections to the plans. The responsibility for this "restructure" has since been granted to Caruso St John.

6. Jussieu - Two Libraries, Paris

OMA / Via

Another design competition winner, this time intended for a technical university in Paris with the lofty aim of revolutionising library architecture altogether, no less.

Not built because?...

Rem Koolhaas's design was perhaps just a little too far ahead of its time back in 1992. Some of the ideas were revived when Koolhaas devised Seattle Public Library, most notably SPL's "book spiral" - reminiscent of the ramps interconnecting multiple library levels in one of the Jussieu models.

7. The Storytelling Tree, Helsinki

Sputnik / Nice Agency / Via

An ultra-sustainable design for a Finnish architecture competition, complete with rooftop winter garden and sauna!

Not built because?...

540 projects entered the Finnish Design Contest. This concept made it to the final six but - alas - it fell at the final hurdle.

8. National Library of Israel, Jerusalem

Moshe Safdie / Via

Moshe Safdie, the man behind the incredible Salt Lake City Library, decided to have another go at turning his hand to athenaeums with this ambitious project.

Not built because?...

Controversial choice though it was, the project was eventually awarded to Herzog & de Meuron after an extensive interview process.

9. New York Public Library renovation

Norman Foster / Via

This design planned to turn the historic Stephen A. Schwarzman building (...think Ghostbusters) into an open and airy circulating library space.

Not built because?...

The plans were unpopular, law suits were filed over the environmental impact of the design and it also became evident the costs involved would be much higher than first imagined.

10. Royal Library Interior, Paris

Étienne-Louis Boullée / Via

Étienne-Louis Boullée's vision of a library fit for an 18th century French king.

Not built because?...

Another example of library design too ambitious for its time. Boullée's model was a welcome departure from the chained libraries of the middle ages, however and would inspire public building design for years to come.

This video from Paul Tran gives some idea as to what might've been!

View this video on YouTube

Paul Tran / Via
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