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Middle Eastern children's library prepared for floods

Photo: COWI

​Omani’s first children’s library is secured against heavy flooding which has caused much havoc in the desert state in recent years. It is built on stilts!

The library building oozes grandeur. And that is not only due to its architecture, glass front and coloured glass façade. It is also because it is in fact at an elevated height of 2.8 metres above the adjacent road.

Interestingly enough, the elevation was not part of the original architectural design.

“The site designated for the library just happened to be in a flood prone area," says COWI’s Project Manager Swati Haldankar.

"Therefore we modified the design by raising the building on stilts which allows the passage of water into the wetlands beyond in case of severe flooding."

Super cyclone scares

Heavy flooding has hit Oman several times in recent years; most recently in April this year, where flash floods killed a dozen people. And the sultanate is still licking its wounds after the super cyclone Gonu which devastated whole towns back in 2007.

Securing buildings against flash floods is therefore of immediate importance. But these precautions have also given the library in the Omani capital Muscat an added bonus, Haldankar explains.

“This practical adaption to the weather gods, so to speak, raises the building up high which brings additional grandeur to the new library,” she says.

Timeless architecture

The five storey structure has a total built up area of approximately 9,000 m² with the library occupying the three first floors and a rentable commercial space on top. It is accessed by vehicular and pedestrian ramps from both sides. The ground floor also houses a book store, a café and a book drop facility.
The visual concept is a mix of Omani architecture with contemporary and progressive features. Coloured glass, tactile materials, textures of surfaces and other timeless architectural elements are skilfully applied to create feelings of mystery, discovery, comfort and delight for the children.
The library building will be handed over to the client end of July after which the interior fit-out will begin. It is estimated that the library will open to the public after the library operators are on board, which is estimated to be by end of this year.
By Birgitte Theresia Henriksen
and Steffen de Vries
Published 19.07.2013

LAST UPDATED: 16.09.2016