Towards the Design of Contemporary Libraries
86533_Design Studio : Industry

The library as a building typology has a history spanning millennia in time. Over centuries, it was defined by the design of its interior: beginning as a simple room for storing written scrolls, it later became a place to study books. This simple space would later turn into a central reading room. Later, the appearance of libraries in the urban realm as buildings in their own right is closely connected to their being made accessible to the broader public. For centuries, libraries were only accessible to those who could read and write.

After the library became a public institution, architects and designers have been continuously searching for the best way to organise its collections and making its facilities as accessible as possible to everyone: new children areas appeared, as well as places for newspapers, monthly magazines and more lately, audio-visuals rooms, were introduced into the typological definition of a library.

However, this typological evolution has been altered in the late 1990s with the arrival of digital technology. The introduction of digitized material and the birth of a new type of book redefined the field, casting doubts on the relevance of the library as a space of collections and readers.

Digitized material has not replaced the physical collection, rather it has been assimilated into the institution as another salient component of a greater structure. Instead, the typology of the library has been expanded upon to provide new experiences within the library, broadening its provision of knowledge. From retail, entertainment and the arts to healthcare and secondary education, new programs incorporated into the library to better serve, maintain and attract existing and new patrons.

These programs, determined in the most part by geography and socio-economic needs of the communities, form a unique development in the library typology. Thus, most libraries today exist as hybrid models, offering both the services of the conventional library and ones enhanced by digital technology.

The aim of this studio is to redefine the Library as an institution no longer exclusively dedicated to the book, but as an information store where all potent forms of media – new and old – are presented equally and legibly. In an age where information can be accessed anywhere, it is the simultaneity of all media and, more importantly, the curatorship of their contents that will make the Library vital.

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