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From the outside, the Stadtbibliothek am Mailänder Platz, Stuttgart’s latest and grandest library, is an enormous cube, 44 metres on each side at the base and 40 high. Once inside, this space designed by Eun Young Yi becomes a real-life version of a picture by M. C. Escher, with various staircases linking its nine floors (plus two basement levels).

At a cost of 79 million Euros, the building took nearly a decade to plan and build. It was thought that around a million people would visit every year, but at present that figure stands at 1.4 million. Not surprisingly, it has received the Stadtbibliothek des Jahres (Municipal Library of the Year) award. And yes, it also has books: 1.37 million of them, in 25 different languages. It also holds maps, films and music in various formats, as well as up-to-date editions of a wide range of newspapers and magazines.

The word “library” is written on the building’s four façades. To the north, it is written in German; to the East, in the language of Shakespeare; the south is for Arabic, a language of ancient learning; and the east has the architect’s mother tongue: Korean. Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, the building has already become a symbol of this German city, where it lights up the Stuttgart night in colours.