The stairs in a viral sensation public library in China run with blood, and its "books" are just sheets of aluminum screened with pictures of spines

Starchitect-designed Tianjin Binhai Library is a viral sensation; the Dutch firm MVRDV incorporated a soaring, six-storey spherical atrium with undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves served by striking, irregular white stairs.

But the white stairs are a health-hazard, their irregular risers and low-contrast color scheme are a tripping hazard, especially when combined with selfie-taking; one guard is employed to yell cautionary messages at visitors on the stairs and describes the blood on the stairs after patrons slip and fall.

Meanwhile, the books aren't books, but sheets of aluminum silk-screened with pictures of spines.

MVRDV blames the fake books on a decision made "locally and against the MVRDV's wishes" to accelerate the construction; library deputy director Liu Xiufeng blames them on a lack of planning permission to use the room for books.

The library, designed to hold 1.2m books, currently has 200,000 books on regular shelves in normal looking rooms off the photogenic atrium.

Liu said the plan finally approved by authorities stated that the atrium would be used for circulation, sitting, reading, and discussion, but omitted a request to store books on shelves.

"We can only use the hall for the purposes for which it has been approved, so we cannot use it as a place to put books," Liu laughed, adding that they would likely soon have to remove all those temporarily on display.

China's futuristic library: More fiction than books
[Becky Davis/AFP]

(Image: MVRDV)