Tianjin's Otherworldly New Library Is Actually Filled with Fake Books

By Emily Guzman, November 24, 2017

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The Tianjin Binhai Library might look impressive in photos, but if you take a closer look you'll find that most of the shelves are actually empty, Yahoo News reports. 

Tianjin Library Eye

The majority of the "books" in the library are only images printed on countless aluminum plates that line the backs of shelves. 

The Tianjin Binhai Library was designed by Dutch architectual firm MVRDV and opened its doors in October. Images of the library quickly went viral and it didn't take long for visitors to flock to the building. On average, 15,000 people swarm to the library every weekend expecting to spot the 1 million books the library is touted as housing. But most visitors walk away disappointed.  

The library currently owns 200,000 books, but most of them are in separate rooms with more traditional book shelves. 

"There's quite a big difference between the photos and reality," Jiang Xue, a 21-year-old student visting the library told Yahoo News. 

Tianjin Library Stairs

Though the space is impeccably designed, and perfect for quick likes on Instagram, it seems to function more as an art installation than as a library.

According to MVRDV, the initial plans for the library offered more access to the upper shelves via rooms placed behind the atrium. But the schedule was fast-tracked, and the original concept was scrapped for time.

The changes were made "locally and against MVRDV's wishes," said Zhou Shuting, spokesperson for the firm. 

However, Liu Xiufeng, deputy director of the library, said that the approved plan was for the atrium to be used for sitting, reading and discussion. He also revealed that there was no request to store books on the shelves.

Tianjin Library Sitting

Liu said that they can only use the atrium for the approved purposes, adding that the meager amount of books on the shelves will soon have to be taken down, effectively making the "library" almost completely for show.

The unique design of the space still attracts throngs of people with phones out, posing for pictures. But the aesthetic of the space has proven perilous to some who have fallen or tripped on the stairs while distracted. 

A security guard recalled an elderly woman who recently took a nasty fall on the stairs. His job chiefly involves yelling warnings at visitors. 

Although the library will soon house even less books than it already does, it is still a sight to behold. Just keep your expectations in check. 

[Images via Yahoo News]

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