Sound wave? Tectonic shift? Mountains? However you read the shape it forms a strong identity for this library that edges up on one side to a wooded ravine.
While its big portico entrance welcomes you inside, only clerestory windows face the rest of town. Along the ravine, however, the building is one continuous strip of window. Beyond being something sculpturally nifty (which it is), the highly angular roof divides the space within into zones for reading, shelving, and enclosure (study booths, multipurpose rooms, offices) while also allowing light from above to make the building glow.
For a smallish branch library, the building is perfect, a straightforward and rectangular layout elevated to be distinct and inviting and cool. Great stuff.
The Capilano Library, another fine work by Patkau architects!
What a beautiful chaotic mass! There’s certainly no missing this building, jutting froth from the ground as it does, like the tectonic plates of the region that inspired it. As a cultural centre, it announces itself most unabashedly.
It’s also got a touch of a European castle influence mixed in there, I think. But that’s my projection from what I’m used to, for my eye also projects a little bit of climbing gym wall as well…
The wonderful chaos continues within. Not that this is true chaos, of course – you can certainly tell the difference between a carefully designed explosion of expressiveness and rhythm versus true random splatter construction. Here it’s all geometric exuberance writ large, creating shelves and nooks for all manners of books and objects and art, including multimedia! All choreographed through circulation, charting a decidedly spatial journey.
Very cool and lots of fun. A great fusion of a library, art museum, and natural history museum.
The Kodakawa Culture Museum by Kengo Kuma & Associates
Oh how I like this, especially as it’s exactly what it says on the tin: Seashore Library. It’s intricate, sculptural, and it delightfully responds to its unusual (for a library) location and makes full use of what such a location offers.
Inside and out the whole thing is a fancy interplay of solids and voids, with spaces both large and grand (such as the main reading room, with its ginormous window that frames the sand and surf beyond) or small and quiet (such as the meditation room). Its rough board-formed concrete feels right at home on the beach like some giant rock, and that wall texture enhances the interplay of light and shadow. And there is plenty of delightful light play throughout, shaping it both for functional reasons but also for dramatic effect.
Very very cool. Love its boldness and its intricate assemblage of different forms, with equally intricate windows and play of light to create a wonderful array of spaces that manage to be evocative and contemplate at the same time. Great stuff.
Seashore Library by Vector Architects
Though it’s a brutalist icon, and despite my love of libraries, I’ve never visited the inside of the Robarts Library on the campus of the University of Toronto. But after seeing these photos of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book wing, I really gotta!
There’s a lot of goodness going on here, from the strong hexagonal patterns (reminds me a bit of the National Art Centre), the cathedral like nave of books, the intricate play of multiple levels, the clerestory window coupled with the ginormous hanging lantern, all enhanced by the rich tones of the wood paneling, the books, and the red carpet underpinning it all. Killer work.
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library by Mathers and Haldenby Architects.
Maybe it’s something about spending so much time indoors that has me looking at libraries so much of late… whatever the reason, here’s another lovely one and one that I can check out the next time I can head back home to visit!
Wood. Definitively lots of wood going on here. Big, muscular, impressive wood, using engineered mass timber construction from responsibly managed lands (I am unsure if this is FSC certified, but I hope so). Arranged like a series of curving splayed fingers, each topped with a green roof, it opens towards the public square with a giant portico. It’s got great visual complexity, changing appearance from every angle, its various bits always in a dance with each other.
That beefy post and beam structure allows all below to be enclosed entirely with glass. Inside the veritable forest of leaning trunks and all that light makes for a vibrant experience, almost cathedral-like. It also allows for maximum flexibility; as its role evolves over time, the library can shuffle itself around to suit the needs of the community.
A very cool, engaging, and fun design. Top shelf work.
The Scarborough Civic Centre Library by LGA.
The Peabody Library in Baltimore, by Matthew Chrisopher
Another library tonight that forms a nice contrast from the museum of last week’s post. Where the watch museum went for a delicate and unique form, this one takes its cues from its agrarian surroundings, exuding rugged beauty and muscle, though done with an equal eye to proportion and detail.
Using brick and concrete, the heavy frame with its open-gable roof rises from the terraced paddy fields that surround it. The shell is treated almost like an independent structure, like a found building (with a tree nearly growing into it at one end!) into which are inserted the lighter and glass-faced interior spaces.
Inside the contrast continues, with wood and steel and glass playing off the coffered robustness of the frame. Plenty of cutaways and punched windows lets the light in and allows for little details like the study nooks and the upper terrace to look back out to the fields all around.
I dig it. A nice and textured solidity that settles into the fields around it coupled with an airy interior that has plenty of moments to delight. Nicely done.
The Sichuan Fine Arts Institute Library of Huxi by Tanghua Architect & Associates
Another wonderful schoolhouse and mini-library tonight, harnessing design to create something vital and beautiful!
Designed in the aftermath of, and thus to withstand, a cyclone, it’s no bunker of a design. Full of air and light, built by community hands, and using the robust structure to its fullest to create a great and interesting space within.
The bit about the library is doubly interesting, for this school is in Vanuatu, an island country where humidity levels are often around 99%. And so the library is nestled up a ladder under the ridge of a black roof, using the sun to heat the air, thus increasing its moisture capacity while also causing convection which is used to continually pull the moisture out of the building. It’s a small thing, but it helps the books last longer, while also creating a great reading nook.
Great design is never out of place, and should never be considered, nor need to be, a luxury. Sweet work here.
Ranwas School by CAUKIN Studio
With my brain being a bit on the fritz, a good book is what the hypothetical doctor ordered. And this wonderful library in Muyinga, Burundi fits the bill for a lovely place to grab and read a book.
There’s a lot of from local culture and the conditions of the site that went into this building, used in a great way that are both functional and fanciful. Right from the start you can see it in the locally-fabricated compressed earth block masonry which allows the building to match rich colour of the surrounding earth and tree trunks. There is a rhythm to the high-buttressed walls, each perforated to allow for light and cross-ventilation, and that further extends into the generous covered walkway. At night, the whole assemblage glows like a lantern.
Inside, it just gets downright sweeter. It’s lofty and inviting, with a great connection to the outdoors and steps that become bookshelves. But the piece de resistance is the hammock suspended overhead… what a great reading nook!
I love it. A great example of learning from the vernacular, using and building skills in the community, and creating a wonderful space through straightforward good design and a few touches of whimsy. Great stuff.
The Library of Muyinga by BC Architects