Seoul Metropolitan Library

    Seoul, South Korea


    Seoul Metropolitan Government

    Competition Entry

    9000 m²


    Melike Altınışık




    Aykut Dağ, Atakan Gündüz,
    Adham Mashaal, Elifcan Merden

    Abdullah Mallah, Kutay Koçtekin,
    Faizan Sharief, Pelinsu Şahin

    Melih Altınışık




    Hyukchan Kwon

    Heayoung Jung, Dennis Ham


Library building designed for Seoul Metropolitan Library (SML) aims to create a core cultural facility with an urban cultural park that will serve as a base for the community in Seodaemun where housing, educational, job, cultural, and commercial functions are  harmonized.

It is expected to inspire new vitality in the region as a culture network for the citizens to preserve cultural background with sustainable architectural vision while becoming a cultural living room and a learning centre. The community will gather to communicate and create their future in a natural park environment.

SML is not located in the Park, actually the Park is located on and in all levels of SML.Designing an elevated second ground (+6.00) ‘Amphi Terrace’ creates an extension of the park with an organic connection into the center of the SML. Meanwhile the ‘Gardenscapes’ flow on, in, under and around the library.

There are two entrances for the library. Main entrance with the drop-off area is located facing the main road. Secondary entrance is located facing the neighbouring park to blend park facilities with easy access to the library. Creative and harmonious planning combines the community's natural outdoor facilities with a public library – public platform.

The ‘Garden Terraces’ of SML has a role as a design tool for meeting functional requirements and conditions of spatial comfort and building physics and creates a wide range of possibilities for connection with urban orientation and public spaces within its form generation.  It blends into its surrounding landscape with continuous visual and natural green belt circulations. It generates a diversity by creative combinations of new cityscapes that encompasses past & future, nature & technology…

SML design combines its form and structure, offers a complete concept to obtain coherency between plan and sections, and harmonizes the library elevations with its own landscape. It will create a significant gathering place for many people over the years. It will also attract young people to be part of this urban living room. This spatial landscape will act as a place for stopping, resting, gathering, and a roof for the cultural life of Seoul with several Vista points.

This design dialogue creates the relationship between the Library and the surrounding residential areas and cultural park to define the identity of this ambience in which these nature and culture meet. SML will create harmony as an expression of cultural continuity. Moreover, the design of the SML will be equipped with facilities which will have

a significant impact on the quality of the movement for the future library by becoming a popular public space which makes the SML as the termination point at Seoul.   This representative and semantic role of the main design character of the SML is as important as meeting the functional requirements at the highest level for the library.

Library as a ‘Living Room’

SML generates a meaning to the community as a Library to reflect the public ’Living room with ‘Gardens’ distributed on all levels with user-centered natural,cultural and architectural treasures. Library filled with books; an institution dedicated to the interior life of mind. Libraries meant something more to cities and their inhabitants than being just repositories of the printed world.

You don’t just borrow books, you walk in the library gardens, read your book next to a Cherry tree on the terrace, play video games, complete homework, listen to lectures, craft workshops, and take part at the book clubs…

We believe that every pathway orientates space. SML will be a powerful place that changes us in Seoul while bringing nature and parks to all levels of the library.

‘We don’t pass through it unchanged, you pass through it both directions. It creates the imagination of one way trip each time you pass through it. It touches the sensation of users by being in-on-under the library’s natural gardenscape… It creates visual effect, it creates repetition, it slows, it accelerates, it alters the movement of people by its design formation.‘

Library as a ‘Data Visualizer’

To create its own universe for books, archives, exhibitions and education; Library should feed the community with knowledge and the community should feedback the library with data. Library as a building can become a data visualizer both locally and globally.

During Day Time – Natural Data

Collected Data from Nature: Wind movements and Sun Reflection will showcase the art of Nature to the community on the Façade. Constantly active and changing…

During Night Time – Digital Data

Collected Data fromNature: Sustainability related visuals to enrich citizens’ relationship with natural preservation and recycling for better futures

Collected Data from City: Transportation, Neighborhoods, Facts related visuals

Collected Data from Park User’s and inhabitants: Trees, users of the park, neighbors

Collected Data from Library Archive & Library User’s: Digital traces are visualized and exhibited on the media facade. This is the feedback loop mechanism of the building as it collects from users and gives to users back.

Collected Data from Individual Citizens: Visual Interaction through Public Space That Media Facade Create, Cyclist near the River shares his track data through Building’s App.


Fields of Books & Future of SML

Hardcopies will exist in both the future both close and far futures.

‘SML will become in the near future ‘the Museum of Hardcopy Books’ and people will come to the Library to gather and at the same time to visit exhibitions for the HardCopy Book Collections. They will touch and smell the books which are valuable in this digital age by the senses of being a human. 

The sense of nostalgia keeps going and people will be in the search of new hardcopy-like publications(non-digital). The sustainable solutions will be there, for creating paper for books. (As you know there are too many trees cut for a publication.) There will be more digital publications. Libraries will be places like memorials of knowledge or hard discs or server spaces for humanity.


Hardcopy and digitized information will be together now and near future; First digitized information will be a tool for libraries as search engines and a big data server. Audio libraries are going to expand themselves by volunteer people first then by artificial intelligence. Our spatial response to this may be to create a space for protection and exhibition of written documents so a library can transform itself into a museum and create spaces for conventional library spaces and connect them to the future 

by digitized information technologies with a smart web of knowledge. On the other hand, Digital archives are more accessible and easier to use for everyone. In this digital world and with new technologies it makes us find specific information and it is an advantage but when you have a hardcopy you need to search for it more and you need to absorb more than you need which is also good. With a hardcopy you can discover more. And also, you can find more related contents for your research.

The aura of the Sacred Space knowledge

It cannot be designed but this soul can find a home for itself by the functions and creatively designed spaces and relations between these spaces. The aura is not a physical space, but it is a feeling. This feeling can be created by elevation of knowledge, so it is better for hardcopy and digitized information to be together. The Vertically oriented ASRS Volume in the middle of the SML works as a big volumetric space where ‘Fields of Books’ are located and organized by automated robotic services. Everything is visible.

Metaphorically the incineration process can communicate with absorption of knowledge. In this age there are too many types of knowledge people can reach without a library. A library building may serve the community as a place which takes all the knowledge (waste) and analyzes them (burn) then gives it to the community as refined knowledge. (This process also makes a library a Sacred Space for knowledge)