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21st Century Reading Playground

Location: Aberdeen Children's Library
Client: Hong Kong Public Libraries LCSD
Completion: December 2021

Public libraries in Hong Kong used to be a pure repository for books, where children were supposed to read quietly in a mundane atmosphere.

Redesigning an old book repository into a 21st-century social hub

We believe that the library, especially children's library, needs to be a social centre where the neighbourhood loves to gather from all walks of life, where the space is promoting face-to-face cultural exchanges, fostering creativity and nurturing good reading habits. Not only are we redesigning the library's interiors, but we are also redefining the children's library in the city. And throughout the process, we should design together with the children.

Our design took inspiration from the rich fishery history of Aberdeen: the flocking timber boats gather and meander on the water to weave an intricate network of community, enriched by the vibrant colours of the sails of red, blue, yellow and green, forming interconnected pockets of explorative spaces.

Shelves become movable walls

In the new design for the children's library, bookshelves are not only used for storing books, but they have also become a series of curvilinear partitions to define spaces. The reading area, which used to be isolated, is now blended into the books' world, encouraging children to get immersed in reading. Tunnels are integrated into the lower part of the shelves to create a network of circulatory paths just for the children. It offers the kids a world of their own, where they walk around to join a reading hub they like.

Reading areas are sinuously demarcated. Communal stage at the centre is a timber platform for reading with friends.

All the spatial arrangements in the library can be easily re-configured for the various events taking place in this 21th century reading playground.

The library is redefined into a social playground, where book reading, regular literary events, and even seasonal activities will all share the same space, by reconfiguring the bookshelves into countless alterations of layouts.

Building blocks in simple shapes


We believe that games would stimulate children's creativity and their interest in reading. After planning several games together with the librarians, we devised a wall system where the game could get its contents changed easily every once in a while. The game could be about memorising thematic words, or it could be a game about co-creating stories by children adding new sentences one after another. Playing these little sensory games would invite the children to enter the world of reading. They will not only learn through play, but they will also share a unique sense of belonging upon the library.

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