Vila da Gràcia Library, Barcelona André Chiote

Featuring no books, but plenty of architectural details.

Library interiors usually get all of the glory—spiral staircases, soaring walls of books, and that musty, delightful, smell.

The Portuguese architect André Chiote thinks it’s time to start paying more time to the exteriors. “Libraries are exceptional buildings,” he says. They’re points of reference in cities, and their distinctive architecture sets them apart.

Aberdeen University Library, Scotland. (André Chiote)

Chiote’s series of graphic illustrations highlights the unique structural details of these buildings around the world. He’s drawn the Delft University Library, the Seattle Public Library, and the Brasilia National Library, among others. His favorite to work on was the Viana do Castelo Municipal Library in Portugal—it’s close to him and designed by the architect Álvaro Siza. Chiote’s approach to libraries is a bit unusual. His work features no books, but instead depicts abstracted, geometric forms. “You need to already know the building to recognize it,” he says.

Municipal Library of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. (André Chiote)

Chiote has previously applied the same minimalist treatment to other municipal buildings; he has a whole series devoted to the 2014 World Cup stadiums in Brazil. But to him, libraries have a special draw. “There is nothing I like more than a wall of books,” he says. Chiote’s designs simply and powerfully highlight the importance of the buildings that house them, too.

Delft University Library, the Netherlands. (André Chiote)
Seattle Public Library, Washington. (André Chiote)
San Antonio Library, Texas. (André Chiote)

Prints, starting at 15€, at André Chiote Illustration.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    Reviving the Utopian Urban Dreams of Tony Garnier

    While little known outside of France, architect and city planner Tony Garnier (1869-1948) is as closely associated with Lyon as Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona.

  2. People in the park at night in front of water
    Perspective

    Even if Uhuru Park Is Protected, Nairobi’s Road for the Rich Is Wrong

    The road being built in Nairobi is for the rich. Even if it will no longer traverse the city’s major park, it’s not the future-thinking urban design that Kenya needs.

  3. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

  4. photo: Swedish journalist Per Grankvist, AKA the "Scandinavian Malcolm Gladwell."
    Environment

    To Survive Climate Change, We’ll Need a Better Story

    Per Grankvist is "chief storyteller" for Sweden’s Viable Cities program. His job: communicate the realities of day-to-day living in a carbon-neutral world.

  5. photo: Bike and pedestrian advocates participate in a "die-in" for better traffic safety in Washington, D.C.
    Transportation

    Are D.C.’s Streets Finally Getting Safer?

    As the District lagged on its Vision Zero goals, bike and pedestrian advocates in Washington turned traffic fatalities into a rallying cry, and got results.  

×