Children’s book forest — a space to explore new worlds


Sited within Japan’s Nakanoshima Park in Osaka, a children’s book forest designed by Tadao Ando is expressively clad in colorful books. The renowned Japanese architect is widely known for his emphasis on both atmospheric simplicity and spatial complexity. With his latest children’s library, the designer manages to maintain an open and uncluttered interior by integrating books and shelving units into the architecture. Sweeping, curved walls are conceived with gridded pockets, each hosting an outward facing book which itself becomes an engaging and ornamental element of the space.

The newly completed Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest, or ‘Kodomo Honnomori Nakanoshima,’ is donated to Osaka city by Tadao Ando. The project is introduced to offer both children and adults a respite from the fast-paced, instantaneous nature of the digital age. The library comments: ‘The line is becoming blurred between the flow of information coming in mainly from social media and the information that can be gained from printed books that cannot be edited instantaneously.’ With artfully curated interiors, books are organized not by genre or age-range, encouraging spontaneity and exploration.

Tadao Ando organizes the space with an attention to scale, with spaces rising upwards three levels together with more intimate areas defined by low, sloping ceilings. Divided by mezzanines, these lofty triple-height sections most dramatically express the field of gridded shelving, occasionally interrupted by narrow, vertical window channels. The library comments on its selection: ‘we are using a new approach to bring books to children by presenting books of all genres — everything from picture books children’s stories that can be enjoyed by infants to children’s literature, short stories, reference books reigning from different fields of study, natural science books, art books, and so on — in a way they could all be enjoyed neutrally and indiscriminately.’

Instinct Furniture Blog, mostly about cool libraries, furniture and design – keeping you abreast of our world. (Source: Designboom. Photography courtesy of Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest and Shunsuke Ito).