About NCKU Former Library

Old Library

Old library recent photos
Established in 1957 (completed in 1959), the old library of National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) was without a doubt the most representative building of the school during the U.S. Aid (1953-1960). According to the interview transcript in 1969, the then chief consultant, Professor R. Norris Shreve, of the joint program of Purdue University and NCKU said that “......, one of our chief contributions was the building of a wonderful library.” The importance of the old library of NCKU in this international joint program was then abundantly clear. Also, the U.S. Aid came into existence in the context of the Cold War. If the U.S. Aid in the 1950s made any crucial influence on aspects of modern Taiwan, the old library of NCKU was definitely one of the most important witnesses of the U.S. investment in industrial education in Taiwan.
Throughout the architecture history, Department of Architecture of NCKU was the only university-level architectural education institution before 1960s. The introduction of information on modern architecture during the U.S. Aid period caused fundamental changes in educational contents at Department of Architecture that they turned from Beaux-Arts to Modernism and from art education to engineering education. Therefore, the modernist old library which was co-designed by professors and students of NCKU Department of Architecture as well as consultant professors of Purdue University was no doubt the paradigm of architectural education at the time. For instance, Professor Rang-Zi Wu, who was also graduated from NCKU Department of Architecture in 1957, once commented during his interview in 2008 that “ The old library was actually a pretty modern building considering the time period. If it could be well-maintained, it would set a record in Taiwan architecture history. To even see that kind of building exist in Taiwan back in the 1950s, naturally it was symbol of some sort in design teaching in Department of Architecture.” Accordingly, the importance of the old library was fully demonstrated in modern Taiwan architecture history.

A couple of main characteristics of this building are as follows,

  • Simple geometric and asymmetrical building volumes
  • Functionalism
    1. The old library was first designed according to the usual librarian functions. Then by different functional requirements of spatial properties, designers then further decided on issues such as the location of spatial configuration, space scale and facade modeling. For example, by locating the stacks on the short axis of the t-shape plane while facing east and west and by installing sun visors on the facade, the stacks can then be kept dry. Designing the plane and height of stacks according to the size of the bookshelves could maximise numbers of books within a limited space. We can then arrange reading rooms on the long axis of the t-shape plane facing north and south, put a large-area side hung window on the facade as well as design a higher floor-to-floor height, we can then enjoy certain degree of indoor comfort.
  • Use of new material and construction methods
    1. In addition to the inward-withdrawn reinforced concrete column and beam structures as well as flat slabs staircases, large-area flat roofs, aluminum window frames and door frames, hollow brick designs and sun visors are all contemporary novel structures.
      However, due to the continual increase of the student population and numbers of library books, even if the old library had been through expansion, it still does not quite fit the requirements of modern library purpose. Therefore, after the third-generation of the main library was completed and put into use in 2001, the old library briefly faded from its old-day glamor. Now that the old library has gained a historic building status from the Tainan City Government, we expect to see the re-use of the old library will allow a brilliant rejuvenation of this incredibly meaningful historic building by means of Taiwan Design Expo.