If you haven’t realized it yet….I love libraries!!!! And I saw this one in Japan and fell in love with it!! How could you not? To the joy of Japanese preschoolers the Picture Book Library, Iwaki City, Fukushima was built in 2005. In 2003, Maki Rei conceived the idea for the museum as a way to house her collection of international children’s books and act as a library for children to enjoy her 1300 books at their own leisure. Turned off by the strict and conservative atmosphere of traditional libraries, the founder of Picture Book Library allowed architect Tadao Ando ultimate freedom to design a space that would be irresistible to kids. And she had only one condition: To make sure the book covers were highly visible. The end result was the vibrant, colorful, and highly celebrated library considered by many as a new paradigm in educational spaces in Japan, and an architectural masterpiece.
In the Picture Book Library the only color is supplied by the bright patterns of the books themselves. Moving away from the traditional layout of libraries, Ando designs a space that is targeted towards children. Within the Iwaki Museum, children are encouraged to engage with the books on their outward facing shelves and read together on one of the many mezzanine levels.
The corridors are kept deliberately dark, in defiance of a possible Western preference for evenly light-filled spaces. “You will be able to see the light because of the darkness,” says Ando.
Everything has been designed keeping in mind the needs of children along with adults. There are different stair railing levels for both child and adult. It also has a cat for children to play with. The library has a collection of more than one thousand international picture books, aimed to make children have fun while reading. The library is used by preschools from Mondays to Thursdays. Fridays are for public access.