LOCATION: Copenhagen | DK
TYPOLOGY: Public Library
ACHIEVEMENTS: Finalist | 2nd prize
With the advent of the digital age, numerous writers and even artists have given thought to what the future of the library will bring. How the digital era is changing libraries today — where certain functions within the library are seeming to fade away while other functions are becoming magnified as they are central to what will make libraries evermore important in the future?
Libraries have emerged as center of knowledge, where people can find the answers of their questions thanks to shared encyclopedias and scientific publications. They were born thousands of years ago, when books (the most important information vehicle), are used to cost as much as a small house and only kings and bishops could afford to own them. After Gutenberg, books become a lot cheaper, the number of titles exploded and more people built their own collections. However, the demand for libraries increased as well.
The wiki era. Recently, Wikipedia has basically substituted the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research. Kids prefer find information and do researches using Internet because is faster and more convenient than go to the library. In addition to that, the rise of eBooks has revolutionized the role of paper issues. Today an entire library could be fit on the same small device.
SO, DO WE NEED LIBRARIES ANYMORE?
The future of library will be as a knowledge center that is dynamic, where not only the librarian, the “books” (whether real or virtual), and the users engage in an interchange of ideas — but the library architecture acts as not only a surrounding framework, but also as a healthy “space” where ideas can flourish, live, grow and even be protected. Thus, the importance of library relates as much to what goes on inside as it does to the building which houses those activities. In a great library, ideas may prosper while those that meet them learn, carry them in their minds as memories and behaviors, and share or teach them to the rest of their community. The library is important because it affects cultures, it affects innovation and it affects individuals.
Because of all this, library architecture has the responsibility to enhance these effects by providing a knowledge center that is inspirational and conducive to good communication and teaching interactions. Libraries are, in a certain sense, a microcosm of our world where ideas propagate and cultures surround them, while at the same time libraries are also an extension of everyone that seeks knowledge — whether for amusement, practical need, inspiration or even to help them teach others.
The new library is situated in the very center of the city, near the royal residences and in front of the Copenhagen Opera House. In addition to that, the site area is close to the waterfront in which a lot of people arrive walking from the nearby Little Mermaid statue.
As a result, the project area is very busy and loved by both tourists and Danish people. Therefore, rather than a self-referential object, the new building is a delicate addition into the existing environment.
The new library is aligned to the existing surrounding buildings, following the actual urban grid and facing to the harbor. Moreover, the new volume is formally and proportionally similar to the nearby constructions, creating a continuous front head-on the waterside.
The library structure allows a free internal layout. Thanks to this feature, the inner space is oriented towards a series of carefully framed views, creating a kind of huge telescopes direct to the urban landscape.
Internal space: the library ground floor is a big open hall in which public activities such as the cafe, the bookshop and the kid’s area have been placed. Its curvy shape results a wonderful playground and an informal space where relaxing, meeting friends and have fun.
Two big volumes (the telescopes) suspended into the internal void host most of the functions strictly related to “classic” library. The control area, the info point, the consultation and the lecture rooms take place in these two volumes that are principally silent holding spaces for individual study or researches. In these area, there are different types of seats and light solutions, ensuring a good psycho-physical comfort according to the different users’ needs.
Moreover, all the seats are oriented to big windows that frame some of the best city landmarks, amplifying the users’ sensorial experience.
The spaces facing to the void are more informal. Users can organize collective research or studying groups, conferences as well as board games or video game contests. Moreover, in the last floor people can read or just chill out in a space characterized with real grass, available all-year round.
Technology: the library promotes the use of technology as important knowledge media. Therefore, all digital items are stored in the main server that can be consulted using laptops, tablets or smart phones thanks to the library app.
This app connects the users’ devices with the main server thanks to the internal Wi-Fi and it permits to read -in cloud- books, magazines as well as to watch movies or listen music. The app also manages the entire paper books catalogue, that is stored in a big framework that is both structure and bookshelf.
The low-rise bookshelf part is a “classic” shelf and it is used for the kids and the bookshop areas. However, the higher shelf is managed by the library apps that uses an automated drone system to find and deliver the stored books.
The whole building is wrapped in a poly-carbonate skin, creating a translucent surface able to show both internal and external activities and transforming the building during the entire day.
The envelope homogeneity transfigure the library in an abstraction of the Danish traditional buildings, introducing a new and modern element into the historical Copenhagen cityscape.
The new library will be a social and cultural center, open to the citizens and will show-case cutting-edge technologies to minimize the building impact to the environment.
Air-conditioning system. The air-conditioning plant will exploit the server overheating in order to climatize the library rooms. In this way, the heat produced by the IT components will be used for the internal conditioning.
Electric energy production. The building needs a certain amount of electric energy. The main server, the users’ Pcs, the drones, the internal lighting as well as the air-conditioning system work with electric energy and this has pushed to find a smart way to produce electricity without overweight the public infrastructure.
Studying the Danish environment, a classic photo-voltaic system has been discarded while an innovative solution came out. In fact, the library should promote a bike sharing system which feature a special bike which produces up to 50Wh thanks to an innovative dynamo. The bikes, moving throughout the city, will produce energy that could be used inside the library connecting the bike batteries to the library electric plant. Needing hundreds of bike volunteers, this solution could be promoted offering special discount at the library bookshop, cafe or allowing free entrances to the collateral events (conferences, training courses, …).
Moreover, special competitions could be organized to reward the best energy producers!