Library Planning Research

A New Academic Library – House of Knowledge

KAUST Library

Created as the focal point on the new campus, the KAUST library crystallizes the architectural and functional ambitions of a new university. It is a contemporary global center for scientific thinking that is rooted in local culture with a senses of historic “place.” Our planning of the library space de-emphasized the building as a repository of books while emphasizing the social dimensions of learning and the access to knowledge through technology. The library respects Arabic culture, retelling the story of the House of Knowledge. Indeed, this is a symbol of educational leadership; with the value of learning at its heart.

In our view, the House of Knowledge is a place of gathering; a metaphorical heart for learning. This university created library serves to function as a learning center, providing informal settings for scientists to share thoughts and ideas. Our program included group study areas and informal lounges that were located throughout the library’s spaces; a café is integrated at the entry, blurring the boundary of formal and informal knowledge sharing.

This library was an innovative architectural project by HOK architects. They developed an innovative light-filtering and translucent, stone shroud that complemented the interior layout. Their expert and professional services gave the library its architectural character. For example, the shroud drapes the north and south façades while leaving the east and west facades open. This provides grand views of the Red Sea to the west and transparency toward the campus to the east.

We hope you will visit this example of a great academic library and let us know how you enjoyed – the house of knowledge.