Special Project

Anna Centenary Library

October 2010

Endowed with green features like over-deck insulation and energy-efficient light fixtures, Anna Centenary Library in Chennai has all the credentials of a landmark project.

Who would have thought that the concept of green construction would one day be extended to libraries too? The recently inaugurated Anna Centenary Library has achieved this extraordinary feat. The state-sponsored public library in Kotturpuram, Chennai, has recently been named Asia's largest green library. Besides stocking a million books, newspapers and periodicals, the library also houses a multipurpose, state-of-the-art auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,200, an open air amphitheatre, and a massive food court.

Imaginative interiors

The interiors of the building enthral with eco-friendly, locally available, recycled furniture and curios. Great colour, graphics and imagery create a bright and inviting atmosphere for both serious and leisurely reading. Spatial planning and interiors of each section are customised to suit the needs of different categories of readers. Common spaces like the lobby and atrium host interactive nodes where both permanent and temporary displays disseminate information on a variety of topics.

Heat-resistant architecture

The building's shape and form, appropriate orientation and integrated shading devices achieve maximum daylight penetration with minimum heat ingress. The reading areas face north and east, and are located next to structurally glazed facades. The auditorium is placed southwards and has fewer openings, enabling both blocks to function independently. The roof of the auditorium has been developed as a landscaped amphitheatre, taking advantage of the structure and minimising internal heat gain.

Along the southwest direction (where heat gain is maximum) are located thermal buffer zones of service cores and an eight-floor high atrium with an outward sloping glass wall. Also, a large expanse of landscaped area in the foreground with overlooking terraces helps reduce noise levels and provides visual respite in the form of the green colour.

Energy-efficient features

The environmentally responsive design of the structure uses both passive features and resource-efficient active elements. The roof overhangs, pergolas and metal louvers provide distinct architectural features and impart a special identity to the complex. The Glass Nano Façade installed by Saint-Gobain is a high-performance solar control and thermal insulation glass. The building's skylight is made of Antelio Plus ST 167 Sparkling Ice. The glazing solution adds to the beauty of this iconic structure.

Other active energy elements include efficient air-conditioning systems, heat recovery wheels, intelligent building management systems, wastewater recycling system, sensor-based sanitary fixtures and building materials with low embodied energy.

Thus, thoughtful architectural design and energy-efficient solutions have helped create a sustainable, low-energy building that was delivered within a commercially viable budget and without compromising on aesthetics. The library was recently awarded green ratings by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) in recognition of its energy-efficient design.

Project details:

Client: Government of Tamil Nadu, India.
Architect: CR Narayana Rao Architects & Engineers. Tel: 044-2499 1676.
Site area: 3.23 hectare
Gross floor area: 37,165 sq m
Building materials: Fly ash blocks, PP cement, solar-efficient glass, low VOC paints and chemicals and recycled carpets.
Construction period: September 2008 - June 2010.
Estimated investment: $36 million ( Rs 1.7 billion)
Green consultant: Selvarasu, LEAD Consultancy Services. Tel: 080-4298 0111.
Fabricator: Bhari Metal Fabrication Pvt Ltd. Tel: 044-2232 9026.
Processor: Fuso Glass. Tel: 044-3028 3848.
Glazing Solution: Saint Gobain India. Website: www.saint-gobain.com