Dezeen Magazine

Community library in Columbia, Maryland, by Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio designs Columbia public library as "new type of community centre"

UK architecture practice Heatherwick Studio has revealed the design for its first public library, a plant-covered building in Columbia, Maryland.

Designed for Howard County Libraries, the plant-covered building would be located alongside Lake Kittamaqundi in the community of Columbia near Baltimore, which was developed in the 1960s.

Heatherwick Studio library in Colombia
Heatherwick Studio is designing a library in Colombia

"Columbia has always been driven by a socially radical vision," said Heatherwick Studio partner Stuart Wood.

"This legacy inspired us to evolve the traditional library beyond books and into a new type of community centre for broader learning and social exchange."

Plant-covered library
The library's roofs will be covered in planting

The studio envisions the building acting not only as a library but also as a community centre and events space.

Its five storeys will contain the main library and workspaces, alongside a central amphitheatre-like space with views across the lake and a teaching kitchen and a cafe on the ground floor.

The library will be topped with a series of interconnected, walkable roofs that will be covered with grass and trees, described by Heatherwick Studio as "planted staircases".

According to the studio, this was informed by the vision of Maryland's founder James Rouse, who described cities as "gardens for the growing of people".

Double-height atrium in library
A double-height atrium will be at the centre of the building

"A walkable, planted building that emerges from the lakeside landscape will house an amphitheatre for events, play areas and light-filled rooms designed for working and learning anything from cooking to IT," said Wood.

"This will be the community centre everyone in Howard County deserves."

Construction of the library is planned to begin in 2024 with the building set to open in 2027.

Led by designer Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studio has designed numerous buildings with planting including the recently opened 1,000 Trees project in Shanghai and a skyscraper in Singapore. In a recent interview with Dezeen, Heatherwick said that "trees aren't a novelty".

The renders are by Devisual.