Posts Tagged ‘library’

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Architecture Monday

September 23, 2019

Get your travellin’ shoes on… to round out our little library tour tonight we’re going to start in Oslo and then hop on the overnight ferry to Copenhagen for a trio of wonderful book houses.

The main Oslo Public Library starts outside with a classic pediment nestled within a larger, more stripped-down yet still neoclassical edifice.  (And I do like the little string of festive lights!)

Where upon entering you are guided to this large open hall, bathed by an immense skylight and dominated (in a good way) by the expressive mural.  Like the exterior, it’s a great mix of the classical, in the form of colonnaded hall, and the cleaner forms of early modernism (it reminds me in many ways of the work of Adolf Loos, who was active at the time of construction).

I really like how this mix plays out in the antechamber, with the classic ionic columns supporting a mezzanine that overlooks the main book hall, provides access to an exterior balcony, and also has that great serrated desk surrounding the atrium opening.  Wonderful design.  As a fun aside, it is nicknamed the “House of Stairs” in honour of its many, many staircases.

For its counterpart at the Copenhagen Main Library we have this inviting atrium that features these playful seating and reading cubbies that stick out into the four-story high space.  Very nifty.

The Royal Library now consists of two buildings, the older and the new, split by a road yet spanned by bridges.  From the modern entry atrium, you cross through the old archways to enter the historical wing.  (Which, itself, was many years ago the ‘new’ library to replace one that sat where the new-new library wing now sits…)

Not much to say other than lovely!  The smooth white plaster archways are wonderful and also work as a great backdrop for the richness and ornateness of the desks, shelves, windows, and light fixtures, not to mention the classical Corinthian capitals and dark stone.

The new atrium has this great commanding view of the waterfront as you exit.

Lastly, here’s an architecture and design library we stumbled upon!  I’m on an architecture trip; there was no way I was not going to check it out.  A repurposed (adaptive reuse!) warehouse/commercial building along the waterfront, the exposed structure and windows with the hundred little window panes works supremely well.

And there we have it.  As I traveled throughout from country to country I really got the sense that libraries — and books in general, for there were many bookstores as well — hold a high place in people’s minds, being well regarded and considered an important part of the social fabric.  With that reverence comes the desire to make them accessible, available, and to celebrate what they are and what they represent, leading to these great spaces for learning, reading, gathering, and creating community.

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Architecture Monday

September 16, 2019

The library train continues!  And what’s this, combining books and adaptive reuse, two of my favorite things, together?  Yes indeed!

Housed in a former tram (streetcar) maintenance sheds, the library takes full advantage of the old tramway doors to craft huge windows with giant shutters that playfully incorporate a bookshelf motif when open.

Inside, the space is kept wide open, punctuated only by furniture (including the bookshelves with colourful seating/desks), and a mezzanine against the great exposed brick wall that itself nestles a kid’s corner that rises like a boxy mountain.

Nicely, the library expands outward into an adjacent café, which itself is adjacent to a sports complex that occupies the rest of the repair shed.  Even there, books (and games) abound!

Altogether forming a wicked community hub, this is one great bit of adaptive reuse, keeping the history and aged ruggedness of the old shed and marrying it with an airy comfort.  I liked it a bunch, if I lived nearby I’d be there often for sure.  Nicely done.

The Norrebro Bibliotek

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Architecture Monday

September 9, 2019

Let us step backwards in time tonight and enter the National Library of Finland.  Standing directly opposite the grand Helsinki Cathedral, it’s stateliness and position are a testament to the importance of knowledge and books to the Finnish people.

The main hall was built between 1840-1845, and, quite frankly, stately may well be an understatement.  Rife with classical details from floor to column to ceiling to dome, there is no doubt that this is a hallowed place for the books that encircle the room.  Every direction you look is a rich tapestry of colour, texture, and form.

The rotunda, built between 1902-1906, is more spare but no less impressive.  Reminding me a bit of the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, the radial rows of books climb balcony by balcony towards the large skylight overhead.  I love the difference between it and the main hall, showcasing the newer motifs of its day with highly artful and expressive cast iron  columns, railings, and details,  not to mention the skylight, reminiscent of the Crystal Palace from the Great Exhibition of 1851.

And to cap it off, the side/secondary reading rooms just keep that grandness going strong.

For the nation’s archives and repository of its cultural record, there is nothing sad about this building at all;  it is fitting and mighty fine.  Here are a couple of 360~ views!  One in the main hall, and one in the rotunda.

The National Library of Finland by C L Engel, Gustaf Nyström, and others.

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Architecture Monday

September 2, 2019

Let us slide over tonight to Stockholm for another library, the Stadsbibliotek.  Instantly recognizable, it was built in 1928, making it much older than the Helsinki library from last week.  But it is still an unabashedly modern design.

A stripped-down take on the classical orders, the building is, essentially, a cylinder emerging from a box.  While the first half of the base is clad in a brick-like pattern with expressive entryways, the top of the box and the cylinder itself are plastered in a deep and striking orange, displaying the formal purity for the world to see.

Passing inside, you emerge from a narrow staircase into a celebration of books. In the round, rising for three stories, are books, books, and more books, with the room continuing to soar further overhead where punched windows let light rain in from above.

Surrounded by the rich wood and colourful spines, it’s quite the experience.  Here are a couple of 360~ views so you can look all around: a view from the ground floor near the entry, and a view from the top balcony.

A classic building that has more than stood the test of time.  Well worth seeing.

The Stadsbibliotek by Gunnar Asplund

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Architecture Monday

August 26, 2019

And like that I’m back from a vacation to the Nordic countries that was, as my vacations often are, heavily aimed towards architectural visiting.  So many buildings!  And plenty to share in the coming weeks.  Hard to know where to begin, and so with no reason other than it jumped into my head let’s start with the new Helsinki Central Library.

There’s lots to love here.  Sinuous and sensual, the curving wood exterior forms an inviting covered entry, while the iceberg-like glass box that rests on top hints at the reading room to come.  The curving wood continues to play around once inside on the ground floor, carving out spaces for the café and several gathering spaces.

Moving up one floor on the central staircase leads you to this amazing project area, with raked seating for work on your laptop and access to a maker space with sewing machines, 3D printers, video editing computers, cutting mats, power tools, and all sorts of other goodies, all nestled among wood-covered diagonal bracing.  (I took a 360~ photo from the start of the project/maker space, you can view it here)

The top floor is where the books live, and yeah, it’s quite something.  With the ceiling floating overhead like an undulating cloud the rows of books (and trees!) extend in both directions towards each end of the building.  There, the floors rise up like a landmass, housing a reading room at one end and the children’s area in the other.  Should all the glass makes you feel like going outside, you can, onto a large balcony that overlooks the city.

A wonderful new library and community hub, purposefully set opposite the Finnish parliament building to emphasize the relationship between governance and active learning, freedom of expression, and citizenship.  And beyond books the library seizes new roles with the maker spaces, classrooms, theatres, and more.  Great stuff.

Oodi Helsinki Central Library by ALA Architects

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Architecture Monday

July 22, 2019

Oh yeah, I love it so much when something straightforward is elevated (somewhat literally, as you will see…) into a wonderful work of design while also improving what was already there.  In this case, it was an open-air stage in a local park that was enhanced by providing cover in the form of a public library to further provide for the community.

The simplicity is in the steel structure, rendered beautiful through excellent detailing and with a creative and cool twist:  the façade is made of used ice cream buckets.  Nestled in the steel structure to encircle the library, the buckets make for a playful exterior while creating a lovely glow free from glare on the inside.  The low  bookshelves lets the light fill the space as fully as possible, while at the back of the library a cushy mat floor lets you truly curl up with a book.

As a bonus, the buckets form a message coded in binary!  A double bonus is the now covered stage can serve additional functions such as for projecting movies and can even be curtained in for use during inclement weather.

A truly lovely project, demonstrating how even small moves can make a big difference, and that good design does not require a high budget.  All it takes is care, design, and some ice cream.

Bima Microlibrary by SHAU Bandung

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Architecture Monday

September 4, 2017

This one’s not completed or open for “business” yet (I say that in quotes as it’s a library and so not really a business) so we can’t see inside, but I do like what I see with the exterior!  Take the corners, pull them up, and insert glass.  Nice.  A straightforward move that, pardon the pun, reads well and really projects the public space within outward to the community it serves.

Not every corner need be pulled up to the same height;  I’m guessing this corner is the children’s wing, and they get their own right-sized windows.

I really dig the black panels that ring the structure.  Ribbed and folded, from a distance they read (again, sorry) like the pages in a book.  It also really contrasts nicely with both the vibrant green of the entry and, even better, the planted roof that’ll help keep the building cool in several senses of the word.

Best of all, check out how the leafy shadows from nearby trees plays across those irregular folds.  Two sets of textures that combine for double richness.

Great stuff.  Kew Gardens Hills Library by WORKac.  Photos by Field Condition.