Kowloon Junior School

Library Renovation

Hong Kong  2020

Books have the power to connect people. In a increasingly digital age, books inspire children to dream, form relationships with elders and most importantly establish bonds between peers.  The environment in which children read has unfortunately been overlooked of late and taken for granted.  The common assumption being, as long as a library has a good selection of books, the kids should be inspired to read. 

The “Book Island” collaborative project wishes to challenge this assumption and attempts to puts forward a new concept of how a children’s library can work, an idea founded on the power of design.  Rather than think of libraries as quiet, serious and passive places this project injects life, playfulness and fun into the programme. 

The project has been designed by students for students.  A joint collaboration between the School of Architecture of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Kowloon Junior School (KJS), where over the course of 1 academic year, undergraduate, Masters and PhD students led by Prof. Peter W. Ferretto designed and built two prototype timber islands for the KJS School library.  The project was run as an elective class, saw 5 teams (18 students in all) compete against each other to win the final design.  The winning scheme was selected via an open design competition where KJS staff and students voted for their preferred team, following which it was further developed into a detail design and eventually fabricated under the supervision of two PhD students Xiaojun Zhang (Sam) and Sze Ho Choi (Jack). 

The “Book Island” is a an evolution of an earlier public outdoor library design also developed by Prof. Ferretto  and his research laboratory Condition_Lab titled “Book Tree”, built in 2018 for a residual urban space in Mei Foo.   Both projects are entirely built in timber, a material which embodies key characteristics in terms of cost, ease to fabricate and flexibility to adapt.  The pair of islands create an oneiric landscape within the library, where gentle curves in the form wood contours form seats for children to engage and gather.  Below the two small interior hills lie quiet and more intimate hidden spaces conceived as cosy spaces where children can enjoy private experiences. 


Design Research Team

Prof. Peter W. Ferretto (CUHK)

CHOI Sze Ho Jack, RPg Student
FUNG Sze Wai Veera, RPg Student
ZHANG Xiaojun, RPg Student

Kowloon Junior School

Neill O’Reilly, Principal

Construction Team

CHOI Sze Ho Jack

FUNG Sze Wai Veera

ZHANG Xiaojun

WANG Haoran
Wong Yuk Tsin Beryl
Zhang Fengji Freddie