A Chinese Village’s Breezy New Library Uses Traditional Construction Techniques to Make a Social Impact
Modeled after a traditional Dong timber house, a new local library designed by Chinese architecture firm Condition_Lab highlights the region’s architectural heritage through elegant, contemporary details. Pingtan Book House is located in the village of Pingtan, Tongdao Province, Hunan, and nestles into the courtyard of a primary school that serves 400 children. The studio saw an opportunity to complement the school—a 20-year old blocky, concrete construction—with an addition that was more empathetic to its cultural and natural surroundings.
Condition_Lab conceived of the idea for a pitched, tiled roof and mortise-and-tenon construction from the local vernacular, drawing attention to the region’s disappearing historic construction. “Entire villages built over centuries from a single sustainable material, indigenous China Fir, are rapidly losing their identity,” the studio explains in a statement. “Dong’s cultural DNA is being challenged by contemporary living and the quest to modernize.”
Connection and interaction within the space and with one another is an important facet of Condition_Lab’s ethos. “Social impact does not require large amounts of financial investment, design is not limited to high-end projects, and architecture must have a purpose,” the studio says. To make the interior space inviting for children to explore, sit, and read, the designers devised a unique plan: instead of rooms and doors, the layout consists of two staircases that wrap around one another in a double helix. Landings between staircases provide wall space for books and top-to-bottom windows that peer out into the surrounding landscape. The steps provide seating for the children, with views up and down the three-story structure through airy balustrades.
Condition_Lab focuses on purposeful design as a vehicle to make change, and you can explore more of the studio’s work on its website and Instagram.
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Nine Artist-Designed Miniature Book Sharing Libraries Appear in Indianapolis
Engaging new audiences and attracting people to libraries in 2015 can be tough, but some libraries are up to the challenge. As a way to simultaneously improve literacy and foster an appreciation for local artists, the Indianapolis Public Library and artist Rachel M. Simon conceived the Public Collection, an endeavor to create nine artist-designed miniature libraries filled with free books.
While the idea of free sharing libraries in urban locations isn’t new (we’ve mentioned several different projects here on Colossal over the years), this project seems particularly ambitious and original by highlighting the sculptural works of Indiana artists and by providing a diverse selection of reading material free to the public.
Perhaps the most ambitious design was built by artist Brian McCutcheon. Titled ‘Monument,’ the five pillar library supports a physical construction of the famous Mark Twain quote: “A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.” The base of each pillar contains a circular shelf where passersby can take and leave books as they wish.
Our personal favorite though is ‘Nautilus,’ a spiral-shaped shelf and reading bench built from reclaimed wood by Katie Hudnall. She says “the body of this piece is loosely derived from the image of a boat on water and is designed to remind the viewer that books (and education in general) can be a form of transportation.”
You can see all of the new Public Collection sharing library designs on-site at the Indianapolis Public Library.
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Weapons of Mass Instruction: A 1979 Ford Falcon Converted into a Tank Armored with 900 Free Books
In celebration of World Book Day (today!) 7UP commissioned Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff to construct one of his famous book tanks. In this case he began with a stripped down 1979 Ford Falcon which he used to build a new roving library on wheels with an exterior framework capable of carrying 900 free books. Lemesoff refers to his militaristic bibliothecas as Weapons of Mass Instruction, and he drives them around the streets of Argentina giving free books to anyone who wants one, as long as they promise to read it. Watch the video above to see it all come together. (via Designboom)
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Editor's Picks: Animation
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