Jalisco State Library

Location Jalisco, Mexico

Status Competition, designed 2005


Subverting the typical library form where books surround a central reading room, this library locks them away in a vault-like structure, safe from the elements and surrounded by public spaces. Inspired by the environmental stability of termite mounds, a complex labyrinth was designed to ventilate the building passively. At night, air is sucked in where it is cooled by the thermal mass, while during the day, the air rises up to cool the building and is released through a series of expressive conical towers.


The building’s centrepiece is a long formal staircase, reminiscent of Mayan temples in the Yucatan peninsula. On its surface, it provides a place for public readings under a series of lightweight canopies. Below, a chamber lit through an alabaster wall behind which books are stacked. At its summit, cafes and bars look out over the city.


Client Central Cultural Universitario

Quantity Surveyor EC Harris

Services Ramboll UK

Structure Ramboll UK