libraries

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Design

Not Just For Bookworms: Helsinki’s Oodi Central Library Connects Residents Through Multi-Faceted Cultural Resources

November 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Readers, researchers, and other curious residents are encouraged to gather together in a massive new ship-shaped library in Helsinki, Finland. Designed by ALA Architects, Oodi Central Library, the long and narrow structure features a sweeping wooden exterior topped with two stories of glass walls. Oodi Central Library is situated in the heart of Helsinki, nestled in the capital city’s cultural district. About one-third of the space is dedicated to books. A cafe, restaurant, public balcony, movie theater, recording studios, and a maker-space broaden the institution’s ability to connect with, and serve the needs of, a diverse population.

The effort seems to have paid off: in the library’s first month about two-thirds of Helsinki’s residents visited the library, and it has had 3 million visitors so far in 2019, according to Tommi Laitio, Helsinki’s Executive Director for culture and leisure. Laitio explained in a recent conference talk in Washington, D.C. that it is essential in their small country for people to respect and invest in their fellow residents. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.” (via Kottke)

 

 

 

 



Design

Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut

May 16, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.

In the Yangzhou location, each book-filled room also features mirrors, but many are found on the floors rather than ceiling. These glassy elements are meant to appear like mirages, a reference to the city’s canals, rivers, and lakes. You can take a quick peek inside the Yangzhou-based location in the video by Great Big Story below. To view more of the Zhongshuge libraries, visit X+Living’s website. (via Design You Trust)

 

 



Design

A Cascading Metal Rainbow Fills a Bookstore in Suzhou, China with Layers of Transparent Hues

March 9, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images: Yijie Hu

As a part of a larger project inside of a unique bookstore in Suzhou, China, architectural designers WUtopia Lab framed a reading room with a colorful structure referred to as the “Xanadu of Rainbows.” Made of one-centimenter thick aluminum sheets that have been perforated and cut into swooping shapes, the metal rainbow is created in a gradient that shifts through almost every shade in the ROYGBIV spectrum.

The word Xanadu is used to describe an idyllic space or place, which is what the architects sought to create with the vibrant, flowing design. The curved panels are installed along the ceiling and down the walls of the bookstore’s reading room and sections of the structure drip down like chromatic stalactites. In addition to creating an eye-catching aesthetic, the panels also functionally divide the open space into sections. To see more of WUtopia Lab’s interior and exterior work, check them out on Instagram. (via ArchDaily)

 

 



Design

Little Tree Library: A Clever Twist on the Donation-Based Community Library Gives New Life to a Big Old Stump

January 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Thanks to the nonprofit Little Free Library, chances are you have encountered a small house-like structure on a public thoroughfare, with a front door that opens to allow passersby to give or take a free book. The program exists in 88 countries, with over 75,000 registered Little Free Libraries. In addition to the goodwill-fueled, donation-based libraries, one of the charms is that each one is customized. Many sport unique paint jobs or even entirely off-the-wall architecture, like the Swedish flag-bedecked Library in the shape of a water tower, which pays homage to the real structure, a beloved fixture in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.

One family in Idaho took their Library design to the next level with a “Little Tree Library,” carved out of a 110-year-old cottonwood tree stump on their property. Sharalee Armitage Howard, you’ll not be surprised to learn, works as a librarian and previously studied bookbinding, according to her Facebook profile. She spearheaded the complex installation on her front lawn, including dentils that, upon closer inspection, are actually miniature books complete with titles. The Library also features interior and exterior lighting, to give the space an extra-homey glow, as well as a “roof” over the top of the stump to help prevent its weathering away.

KREM, the local news station in Coeur d’Alene made a video (below) to give those outside the small town a closer look at the Howard’s new addition. You can find a Little Free Library near you on the organization’s website, which also offers premade kits if you don’t have any large stumps on hand.

 

 



Design Photography

Look Inside the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries in a New 560-Page Photo Book by Massimo Listri

August 16, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All photographs © Massimo Listri / TASCHEN

Italian photographer Massimo Listri has spent decades traversing the globe to document the spectacular architecture, sculptural elements, and furnishings of historic libraries. His new book, The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, includes views inside such rarefied locations as the Palafoxiana Library in Pueblo, Mexico and the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, France. Listri also includes descriptions and histories of each library. The 560-page tome is published by TASCHEN and available on Amazon and the TASCHEN website.

Klosterbibliothek Metten, Metten, Germany

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, France

Biblioteca do Convento de Mafra, Mafra, Portugal

Stiftsbibliothek Admont, Admont, Austria

Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbria, Portugal

Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome, Italy

Strahovská Knihovna, Prague, Czech Republic

 

 



Art

Lifelike Sculpted Figures and Immersive Monochrome Environments by Hans Op de Beeck

March 28, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

The Collector's House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

The Collector’s House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck creates life-size figural sculptures and immersive environments from materials such as coated wood, polyester, and pigmented plaster. These chosen materials turn his constructed figures and installations into a uniform shade of matte gray, which makes the viewer feel as if the world around them has been zapped of color.

In his 2016 work The Collector’s House, Op de Beeck produced a 2,600-square-foot monochrome space in which visitors served as the only element of color. The museum-like installation contained several life-size sculpted figures in addition to a library, grand piano, furniture, scattered still lifes, and a lily pool positioned squarely at the work’s center. This work, like many in his practice aimed to stimulate the viewer’s senses and to “create a form of visual fiction that delivers a moment of wonder, silence and introspection,” he explained in an artist statement.

Op de Beeck currently works in both Brussels and Gooik, Belgium. Over the last decade, Op de Beeck has mounted institution-based solo exhibitions at museums across the US and Europe, including the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2010), MOCA Cleveland (2014), and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2017). You can view more of his lifelike figures and installations on his website.

The Collector's House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

The Collector’s House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

The Collector's House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

The Collector’s House, sculptural installation, 2016. Coated wood, coated polyester, pigmented plaster, PU, metal, glass, 20 × 12.5 × 4 m

Tatiana (Soap Bubble), sculpture, 2017. Polyester, wood, polyamide

Tatiana (Soap Bubble), sculpture, 2017. Polyester, wood, polyamide

Sleeping Girl, sculpture, 2017. Mixed Media

Sleeping Girl, sculpture, 2017. Mixed Media

Brian, sculpture, 2018. Polyester, glass, coating

Brian, sculpture, 2018. Polyester, glass, coating

Tatiana (Butterfly), sculpture, 2017. Polyester, wood, polyamide

Tatiana (Butterfly), sculpture, 2017. Polyester, wood, polyamide

The Garden Room, sculptural installation, 2017

The Garden Room, sculptural installation, 2017

 

 



Design History Photography

A Look Inside Europe’s Most Enchanting Libraries by Photographer Thibaud Poirier

June 8, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Trinity College Library, Dublin, 1732

Over the last year, photographer Thibaud Poirier has traveled across Europe to photograph some of the world’s most incredible libraries. The series includes both historic and contemporary libraries with a special emphasis on the varied designs employed by architects. Poirier captured each image when the buildings were closed and empty of people to focus entirely on structure and layout. From his statement about the project:

Like fingerprints, each architect crafted his vision for a new space for this sacred self-exploration. These seemingly minute details are everywhere, from the balance of natural and artificial light to optimise reading yet preserve ancient texts to the selective use of studying tables to either foster community or encourage lonely reflection. The selection of these libraries that span space, time, style and cultures were carefully selected for each one’s unique ambiance and architectural contribution.

So far Poirier has photographed 25 libraries and says he intends to add to the series as time permits. If you liked this, also check out his Berlin Interiors series.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, 1850

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Salle Labrouste, Paris, 1868

Bibliothèque de l’Hotel de Ville de Paris, Paris, 1890

Grimm Zentrum Library, Berlin, 2009

Stadtbibliothek, Stuttgart, 2011

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne, Salle Jacqueline de Romilly, Paris, 1897

Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra, 1728