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The Jose Vasconcelos Library is a book snake that organizes and compiles the library stacks in a flexible, expandable, clear and open system that also triggers spontaneous events amongst the community of readers. The organizing structure is based on the Dewey Decimal System, which spatially ascends in a continuous linear sequence as books are placed on shelves identified with the 10 Dewey Decimal classes. Class 000 is found at the lowest building elevation and the 900s division at its highest. Resembling a Mobius Strip, the building is a continuous ramp along which the book organizing classes rise in numerical value as the ramp or strip moves up from the ground and ends back at the starting elevation after completing a full loop through rows and reading areas.


The building is conceived of as a tubular structure with variable sections to accommodate different programmatic activities. The building envelope system and materiality is developed as a membrane, which is able to adjust in response to exterior environmental conditions and in conjunction with mechanical systems that maintain and control the interior temperature and humidity levels required for book storage and reading activities.


The double loop of the book snake creates two courtyards. The first courtyard opens to the public and functions as an entry plaza while the second courtyard acts as a respite from the busy urban surroundings and is an extension of interior reading areas. The second courtyard is a secret garden for private contemplation and/or the lively exchange of ideas.

Project Type



New Construction

Design Competition

(Not Built)


Building Area

Site Area

Services Provided

410,000 ft

38,000 m

10 acres

4 hectares

Architectural Design

Sustainability Strategy

Site Design




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