“LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST” Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

• May 15, 2013

ETT LOtVF daegu 01 main view 600x264 LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

courtesy ETT

Daegu lies within a gentle bowl of land defined by the surrounding forested hillslopes. We wanted the landscape of this valley to become the building. The geography of the place thus shapes a new trough-shaped public space. A public space that through its metaphorical character shall strike a deep connect to the city’s geography and the hills beyond.

ETT LOtVF daegu 00 concept 600x120 LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

courtesy ETT

We wanted this public space to define the nature of the new library – a building shaped by the landscape and geography. We placed this free space at a height, such that its simple and powerful message becomes the building’s significant urban gesture. This trough is accessed through a zig-zag mountainous path.

Under this trough-shaped public space, the landscape of the library is now defined. We wanted the experience of forest slopes. Of cascading undulating streams making their way amidst the trees. Of hillsides that can be climbed. Of a strange and mysterious inner world filled with joy, discovery and a serenity removed from the hustle-bustle of the metropolis.

ETT LOtVF daegu 02 SWview 600x564 LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

courtesy ETT

We wanted this mysterious world to be bathed in a beautiful light. A light that is strange and soft. That is all-encompassing and is a constant soothing presence. Like the dappled light filtering through a thick tree canopy in the forest. But a light that is textured, varied and joyous too. Maybe like lanterns during the festival that hang in the sky defining an in-between firmament. This shall define a space that is not only filled with the joy of discovery, but is also a sanctum.

Stacked floors instead become a landscape of raked surfaces, terraces, tree-like columns and dappled kaleidoscopic light. Each landscape is not only an inner world or sanctum but makes explicit gestures to the outer world. The General Circulation Room cascades towards the Public Park on the North while the Children’s Library opens up to the intimate domestic setting of the residential quarter, defining a renewed children’s community play space under the building. The Library’s community functions are defined at the top of the building and at the lower ground level.

ETT LOtVF daegu 04 SEview 600x548 LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

courtesy ETT


The Library is entered from the public park towards the north – the site’s urban and public face. Additional emergency exits are provided at ground as well as at +2.40M level onto the ramped surface.

At the entrance, one can choose to access community facilities in the lower and upper levels from the Entrance Lobby as well as stockrooms [cloakrooms] and washrooms below, before entering the Library Check-out Lobby. This Check-out Lobby acts as a means of control for Library Administration.

This level provides access to the Library levels via an amphitheatre/staircase or via a set of cascading ramps suspended from the ceiling. The ramps also provide intermmediate access to the Children’s Library from a landing at +2.40M level.

The amphitheatre/staircase acts as an event space for book-readings, etc. It also acts as a lounge allowing library patrons flexible means of use. It provides access to the Lower Level of General Collections which has the Circulation/Library Assistance Desk, Lounge, Copy and Book Search.

ETT LOtVF daegu 11 long section 600x333 LIGHTS OF THE VALLEY FOREST Library \ ETT architecture | design | research

courtesy ETT


The Children’s Library is conceived of as a landscape of three sections on various levels:

  • a raked, Activity Centre with colour-glass enclosed ‘rooms’ on platforms atop this sloping floor – as well as an amphitheatre/staircase that is part of the book-reading room;
  • a two-level collections space that houses bookracks and other reference material along with informal and formal seating;
  • a ‘bridge’ like digital data centre where children can access computers.

The raked Activity Centre floor becomes part of the ourdoor landscape defining a new playspace for the children of the community.


Conceived of a as a terraced forested landscape, visually connected to the northern park, four levels are interconnected by ramps and stairs to offer flexible yet distinctly heterogenous spaces for the library collections. In the layout as shown, the lowest level becomes the ‘periodicals room’ with upper terraces reserved for bookracks and study / casual reading and reference.

Bookracks are arranged to maximise views and a sense of open-ness and vast-ness within a small building Light that will filter through the ceiling skylights over the clustered slender steel columns as well as the perforated side walls will amplifiy the sensation of being within a forest.


The Community Hall is conceived of as a volume that opens out to the city on the north and to the undulating terrace roof via a grassy amphitheatre. The space is made flexible for events and exhibitions by dividing glass walls. The glass wall along the exterior patio can be opened up to the amphitheater to house a larger audience.

The terrace also connects to a publicly accessible ramp that climbs up the west facade.

+ Project facts

Public Library, Daegu, South Korea

Design: ETT architecture | design | research http://ett-adr.com
Project: ‘Lights of the Valley Forest’ – Public Library, Daegu
Year: 2012
Project Team: Dhara Mehta, Jude D’Souza, Sonali Praharaj, Suprio Bhattacharjee

+ All images and drawings courtesy ETT architecture | design | research

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Category: Architecture, Culture

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