First green library for kids taking root here

Leslie Kay Lim Straits Times 10 May 12;

IN A year, children visiting the National Library in Victoria Street will be able to step into an 'enchanted forest' containing a collection of green-themed books, programmes and displays.

Four- to 12-year-olds will even be able to curl up with books in their very own tree house there.

The facility, the world's first green library for children, comes courtesy of the National Library Board (NLB) and property developer City Developments, for which this is a project in corporate citizenry.

Called 'My Tree House', the 500 sq m library will have 70,000 books, many of them with a nod to nature themes.

NLB chief executive Elaine Ng said the library aims to familiarise children with the environment and green practices. 'We hope this will contribute to a new generation of nature lovers,' she added.

My Tree House will be in the current children's area in the basement of the National Library Building.

City Developments and its partners Interface and Royal Philips Electronics have pledged to provide the expertise and resources for the green library. Their joint experience with green-building innovations means the library will be built with green materials and practices.

The tree house centrepiece, for instance, will be made of recycled timber, PVC pipes, aluminium cans and plastic bottles; the library will be kitted out with carpets made of 70 per cent recyclable materials and energy-efficient LED lighting as well.

The design firm for the project, ADDP Architects, has a track record with green buildings; its leading design consultant Tang Kok Thye was recently named Green Architect of the Year by the Building and Construction Authority.

Mr Tang said the challenges in the project came in the retrofitting of the library's space, and the changes made to the original design.

Along the way, his team had input from what he called 'little consultants': These likely users of the library said they preferred slopes over stairs. They also said the phrase 'green' brought to mind vegetables more than the environment, which is how the tree house concept evolved.

The library's interior will have high-tech interactive displays such as a shadow wall and a tree stump with rings reacting to sound and temperature.

Most of the library will be built off-site to minimise interruptions to the library's operations. The NLB hopes to showcase the green library at the World Library Information Congress to be hosted here in August next year.