Community Library

This student project is sited within three shophouse lots in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, directly facing an Indian temple, with a local market at the rear and flanked by shop houses and restaurants.

The social demographics comprise students, locals and transient groups, namely tourists and white-collar workers. These urban dwellers seem to be ‘locked up’ behind grilles in their units for protection—even a religious altar is ‘caged’ to prevent theft. The area seems to have lost its community spirit and sense of place.

The community library seeks to change that by providing a place to stop, relax and ponder.

By negotiating the tectonics and massing of built forms, grids are deformed via intersection of spaces and the creation of voids to stimulate passive contact among users. The spaces are arranged to capture the ‘intangibles’ of the site, the natural elements, sounds, colours and smells. All these are amplified and framed to make people appreciate and realise what they have missed in the hustle and bustle of city life.

A pedestrian path punctures through the ground floor to create a passageway to lure passers-by. The main staircase circulation is emphasised to intrigue those on the street level with its deep visual permeability and invite them to explore and ‘flip through’ the layers of spaces within.

These spaces are designed to form a self-sustaining village, where students, library users and the local market community forge a strong relationship.

A market space is located at the rear on the ground floor for small vendors. The event hall caters for large communal gatherings, such as festivals, lion dances and Hari Raya gatherings.

To cater to the out-of-town students studying nearby, there is student accommodation on the rear of the first floor, which faces the local market. On the same level, a semi-open reading area is carved for locals to hang out and read newspapers. The voids within (the atrium) and the voids without (the permeable walls) ensure that the ground and first floor are well-connected with visual and audio cues, so one can read while being immersed in the atmosphere of the local community.

Upon entering the second floor, the hustle and bustle of the street is traded for intimate private reading spaces, interspersed with pockets of garden for outdoor breaks. In the main collection area, there is a void with a reading net for stack ventilation and visual permeability.

A Maker’s Space is housed on the third floor, where users can pick up life skills offered by NGOs and volunteer groups.

The heart of the library is located on the fourth floor, which includes a community lounge and project room linked by a sky bridge. The planning and execution of community activities happens here.

The library’s roof-scape, when seen from above, reveals a collection of boxes, stacked and twisted to create movement and breathing spaces. These volumes are meant to encourage exploration and circulation, while capturing views, breaking the monotony of city life.

Student Name: Tan Ling Rong
School: Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, Malaysia
Programme: Bachelor of Science (Hons) Architecture
Supervisor/Instructor: Ar Fadzwin Hashim
Project Name: Community Library
Project Year: 2016
Location: Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Site Area: 500 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 1,500 square metres
Building Height: 5 storeys
Client/Owner: Local council
Images: Tan Ling Rong