Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

3/04/2010

Reinventing the library

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Did I mention how much I love libraries? Getting a library card does make me squeal with glee. Yes, it's time to break out my nerd glasses, but before I do let's take a look at some 21st century library makeovers.

Last June 2009, the city of Magdeburg, an abandoned city center in East Germany introduced its Open-Air-Library. Open 24 hours a day, the library operates on an honor system, giving rise to the name “Library of confidence.” Visitors can borrow and return books whenever they want.


The newfangled concept comes with an equally unusual façade. With the help of generous locals, KARO Architects created the exterior out of 1,000 donated beer crates. A re-used HORTEN warehouse façade from the City of Hamm gives the building a distinctly modernist feel. Not bad for beer crates, right? The site also features a communal stage that can be used for plays, concerts and cultural events.

At the Ingleside Branch Library in San Francisco, Fougeron Architecture and Group 4 Architecture makes use of a corner lot to build a community-centered library with minimal impact on the environment.



The cozy library done in earth tones has multi-level roofs that shields the main building from the sun and keeps temperatures cooler. Skylights augment the lighting system, requiring less energy to light the building and keep visitors’ spirits up.

The L-shaped building guards the perimeter of the street corner, creating a natural sound barrier for the roadside noise. In the middle, architects have designed a courtyard populated with native plants to minimize maintenance and watering costs.

By far, the most lavish attempt is in Aarhus, Denmark’s planned “urban mediaspace.” Plans reveal a “seven-sided, glass-walled building with generous roof overhangs that seem to simultaneously extend protection over the public realm and invite people into a hive of visible activity.” It also includes conference rooms, performance venues, studios for artists and businesses, even a tram station and satellite government-service offices.


What does your future library look like? Cozy or modern? Homey or sleek? Whatever the case, it seems that it’s on track to be tomorrow’s coffee house, where one can bask in the company of others. So much for ubiquitous “Silence Please” signs.


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