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Reflection Connection: London Public Library

Showcase row: 
not a showcase item
Student name: 
Vince Kuns
Discipline: 
Architecture
Level: 
Bachelor 4
Instructor(s): 
Ann Pendleton-Julian
Course: 
ARCH 4410: Architectural Design V
Term: 
Autumn 2015
Description: 

                In our studio, we developed our buildings first as story driven narratives that would invoke the feelings and experiences in our frame of mind before we even began sketching. These narratives drove our projects forward in concept while we simultaneously worked diligently to establish a knowledge base about what makes a public library, and specifically, what makes a public library in London, in the 21st century. In the many iterations of my narrative, the overarching theme of grand reveals to vaulted and expansive spaces inside and a connection to the buildings around it were carried throughout. The focus of my project in respect to 21st century London was to create a wide diversity of spaces inside that could suit the needs of the heavily diverse public, while also combining the worlds of old school analogue books, with new age digital media.

                To accomplish this task, I treated each of these instances as a surface with which to wrap my spaces. A heavy poured wall to represent the weight and introspective nature of the books and a glass curtain wall to represent the ever expanding world of digital media. In the west wing of the building, the heavy wall is carved away by circular voids that then become lined with shelves creating varied scale reading rooms which carve upwards trough the floors above. My method of space making was nicknamed “Punk Baroque” by my instructor and it has stuck ever since. Where these spaces intersect one another follows a system that becomes less and less rigid on each ascending floor level, until it is almost unrecognizable by the top floor. Where they meet with the wrapper, they punch trough to create aperture and light penetration while the leftover interstitial spaces become programmed poche’ with passages, work rooms, administration spaces and bathrooms. Where this side connects with the other, a narrow reading balcony extends into the atrium on each level, providing a quiet, but light filled space thanks to the meeting of the two skins.

                In the east wing of the building the curtain wall provides light to the long horizontal expanses of the floor plates. This side of the building houses the entrance, where patrons are given a choice to either follow the heavy wall into the stacks, or follow it down a ramp and into the atrium and auditorium. Patrons can also head directly into the main floor restaurant, or proceed up the ramp into the main reading room on the second floor. Once in the reading room patrons are given another choice of which side of the single curving bookshelf they will travel. On one side, a seating area looks back at the site, while on the other it opens up to a seating area overlooking the water. As the floors on this side of the building ascend, they make a gentle sweep out and over the water facilitated by the connection to the heavy side of the building providing panoramic views to north London, while increasing sun exposure on the south side of the building.

 

                My site strategy seeks to hold a different edge of the site. Rather than focus on the city edge, my building embraces the river capturing unhindered spectacular views across the water while creating a public-entity precinct with city hall with which the atrium of the building is a direct reference, and informed the sweep of the digital side. This strategy preserves the green space of potters fields, while only removing a small piece to create a plaza between itself and city hall. The building takes a medieval approach to form by pushing to the site boundary and proceeding vertically. This gently diverts the flow of people on the river’s edge promenade, like a rock in a stream, around the building or casually sweeping them inside as they pass.

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