Rotunda Library
Photograph: via National Gallery Singapore

5 gorgeous libraries in Singapore for quiet work and study time

These inspired spaces will help you get into the work flow

Cheryl Sekkappan

Work from home is great and all, but sometimes the four walls of your room or personal study is too much of the same thing for you to be at your most productive. Once in a while, it helps to venture outside to quiet cafés or public spaces to make some serious headway in exam revisions, an important presentation, or simply in your reading goals. There are many public libraries in Singapore that can do the trick – though, for some extra inspiration, we suggest you head to these five beautifully designed libraries. 

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Singapore's most beautiful libraries

  • Art
  • City Hall

There's no grander library in Singapore than the Rotunda Gallery & Archives. Nestled within the National Gallery Singapore, this museum library stuns with Roman-style columns that reach up towards a domed ceiling, where natural light pours through a ring of arched windows. This hidden gem is home to an extensive collection of books and exhibition catalogues on Southeast Asian modern art, painstakingly built up through years of donations, partnerships and exchanges with libraries around the world. While researchers have the most reason to visit the Rotunda Library, the place is also open to walk-in visitors on weekdays, who are free to check out the collection and relax in quiet reading nooks dotted about the space. 

  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • Bishan

Bishan Public Library is sure to make your head turn. Designed by Look Architects, this four-story building was inspired by treehouses as a metaphor for play and discovery. Colourful stained glass panels create a dappled light effect within the library, like sunlight through the leaves; and you'll want to snag a seat in one of the library's suspended reading alcoves too – depending on which alcove you're in, you get a bird's eye view of either the road outside or the activities within the library for some people watching during work or study breaks.

  • Things to do
  • Orchard

Library@Orchard is the perfect modern library. The white walls and shelving immediately put the mind at ease, narrowly avoiding a clinical feel thanks to the undulating waveforms created by curved bookshelves. They make a particularly pretty picture when viewed from the staircase leading up to the second floor. Opened in 2014, library@orchard offers a vast array of titles across fiction, lifestyle, design and art, making it the perfect pitstop when shopping in the city. 

  • Things to do
  • Harbourfront

With huge windows that overlook Sentosa, the spectacular waterfront views at the reading lounge in Library@Harbourfront would make anyone feel like they're reading by the beach. Take a break from the busy mall and step inside the library where you will find over 200,000 volumes of books, conducive reading and learning spaces for children, teens and adults, learning pods, augmented reality books and enhanced services for both avid readers and those keen to learn. 



Yale-NUS Library

Studying for exams would be a lot less painful with a library that looks like the one at Yale-NUS. This zen-like space is defined by soothing cream walls, plush carpeted flooring, wooden lattices and, of course – floor-to-ceiling windows that allow sunlight to flood the place. No gloomy or oppressive library vibes here. The Study Space used to be open to members of the public during select hours, but is now only accessible to staff, faculty and students of Yale-NUS and NUS. We're keeping our fingers crossed for the time when we can visit this beautiful and peaceful space again. 

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