The Eye of Binhai


by Mahagony Willis

Just when I thought I’d visited some of the most amazing places to check out a book, this prodigious library in China reminded me that I have so much more to explore. Located in the Binhai Cultural District in Tianjin, this five-story library known as “The Eye of Binhai,” can hold up to 1.2 million books. Its breathtaking design was a partnership between Dutch design firm MVRDV and the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI).


“The Eye” is actually the center of the library; hollowing out the building creates, with the use of bookshelves, a magical environment to sit, read, and hang out,” explains MVRDV’s director Winy Mass.

In addition to the ground floor reading area and the beautiful eye, the first and second floors are home to further reading rooms and lounge areas. The top two floors house offices, meeting rooms, and computer/audio rooms. Terraced book shelves contour the entirety of the curved interior and act as both stairs and seating. Maas describes them as “great spaces to sit and at the same time allow for access to the upper floors. The angles and curves are meant to stimulate different uses of the space, such as reading, walking, meeting and discussing.” All their missing in this place is a Starbucks. So if you’re a big time book lover like I am, and you’re thinking of planning a trip abroad, be sure to keep China top of mind for this structure alone.