Koolhaas says Doha library is big enough to hold an entire population - as well as a million books

OMA’s Qatar National Library has been officially opened and new images released by Rem Koolhaas’ practice.

The scheme houses the National Library, Public Library, University Library and Heritage Collection, which consists of valuable texts and manuscripts related to the Arab-Islamic civilisation.

The 42,000sq m Public Library alone contains more than a million books and space for thousands of readers.

The National Library is part of Doha’s Education City, an emerging academic campus which hosts buildings sponsored by universities and institutions from around the world. Other OMA-designed buildings on the campus include the Qatar Foundation headquarters and a new branch for the Research Institute.

The library is conceived as a single room whose edges are lifted from the ground creating three aisles which accommodate the book collection and, at the same time, enclose a central triangular space. This allows the visitor to enter the building in the centre, rather than from the perimeter.

OMA chief Ellen van Loon said: “Classically, libraries were vibrant spaces for the exchange of knowledge. With the immediate accessibility of information in the current era, the library’s role as public meeting space is more significant than ever.

“We pay tribute to the region’s rich culture with the Heritage Library, excavated from the ground like an archaeological site, holding historical and priceless Islamic texts for visitors to study and contemplate.”

Koolhaas added: “We designed the space so you can see all the books in a panorama. You emerge immediately surrounded by literally every book – all physically present, visible, and accessible, without any particular effort. The interior is so large it’s on an almost urban scale: it could contain an entire population, and also an entire population of books.”