MyJoyOnline.com

China's out of this world library

A public library.
But this ain't your average book lender.
Featuring an all-white futuristic design and a luminous spherical auditorium, the new 33,700-square-meter structure has been attracting bumper crowds since it opened in October.
Tianjin Binhai Library is one of the five main attractions in the Binhai Cultural Center, the city's new recreational district.
The eye-shaped atrium space of the library is designed to be a "new urban living room," says Dutch architect firm MVRDV, which devised it alongside Tianjin's Urban Planning Design Institute.
"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 tells CNN.
The curvy contours surrounding the auditorium house bookshelves. There's a "book mountain" that also acts as stairs and seating.
The library advises that readers under the age of 14, those who wear heels and those who aren't fit for hiking should avoid the book mountain.
Why build a library that requires a mini-workout?
"We want to develop new typologies for all our cultural projects, a place that inspires users and also promotes and celebrates -- in this case -- reading," says MVRDV's spokesperson.
When pictures of the library, dubbed the "most beautiful library in China," were shared on social media sites, thousands of visitors flocked to see the new landmark.
Queues stretch outside the library at weekends.
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.
It's not the first MVRDV project to win over the internet. Some of its previous works include the whimsical Suffolk's Balancing Barn and Rotterdam's Market Hall, which have also become popular Instagram spots.
But this project is MVRDV's fastest to date.
It took just three years to build -- from the first sketch to the opening -- due to a tight construction schedule set by local officials.
Because of that, the firm was forced to give up one of its original designs: access to the upper bookshelves from rooms placed behind the atrium.
The bookshelves closer to the ceiling are now inaccessible and are replaced by perforated aluminum plates instead.
Visitors have also complained about the lack of actual books in the atrium.
Most of the shelves in the atrium are plastered with images of book spines instead of actual books. Visitors have to head to the more traditional sections of the library for the real thing.