The Tianjin Binhai Library in China has been driving booklovers crazy these past few days upon its grand opening. Designed by Dutch design firm MVRDV in collaboration with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, the library’s bookshelves surround a spherical structure in the centre of the giant atrium, emulating the form of a giant eye. The library has thus been aptly nicknamed the ‘The Eye of Binhai’.
"The eye is a recognizable feature of the design visible from inside and outside but also a fully functioning atrium with a capacity of 110," an MVRDV spokesperson told CNN.
The ‘book mountain’ inside the library as well that functions as stairs and seating. Children under 14, visitors wearing heels and generally unfit people are advised to not climb the book mountain by library staff.
Once word got about the library, thousands of visitors flocked to location. The library received about 10,000 visitors per day during the first week of opening and has welcomed up to 18,000 visitors on some weekends.
However, there is a catch with this library. It’s not brimming with books as it seems like in the photos. Most of the bookshelves are in actuality empty, with prints of books spines pasted onto the inside wall, giving the illusion of being a filled shelf. People around the world have criticized this particular aspect of the library, saying the much-touted space is "more fiction than books." A huge chunk of the library’s collection is housed in other rooms.
The builders posit that the atrium was created as a meeting place for visitors, where they could socialize and get to know people. This brings us to the question of exactly how much of a library this establishment truly is. Nevertheless, the atrium is undoubtedly a spectacular feat of design and has been attracting thousands since its premiere.