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contents ] } program } form models } site } library development } street perspective

} site plan } site model } plans } section a } perspectives } section b } precedent studies } perspective } section c } elevation north } elevation south } elevation west

[ the program ] Hay-on-Wye, the town of books, a centre point for the written word, is twinned with the Malian town of Timbuktu. Often referred to nowadays as a place of isolation in the Saharan desert, it was once a great place of education, trade and home to around 25,000 students studying at its university. The scholars and intellectuals who lived here wrote and passed down through generations precious manuscripts, manuscripts containing vast amounts of information on the history and identiy of Africa. My interest narrowed into the preservation of these delicate materials. Many methods have been adopted by their owners to insure their safety and long life, including burying within the vast sands surrounding the town and storing deep away in the hut houses. This attention to a suitable place began to inform my design process in a manner of controlling environments. Ensuring the regulation of a space which may contain such a precious object. This progressed into how the ly differed to those needed for humans to live comfortably. Heavily limited amounts of natural light, moisture and heat reaching these objects is polar opposite to the needs of a person. My designs therefore began to explore the mediation between these contrasting spaces, from volume to volume. From initial research I began to develop a program which explored the idea of creating a built environment which would hold these precious materials for scholars and interested minds to study and research. I wanted to create an architecture which would stand the test of time, a statement of solidity. This would be a place where these manuscripts could be promised security and a safe environment for them to be appreciated and studied. I hoped that this could be achieved through materials demand a program ensuring a high level of security. My facility would allow 10 scholars at a time to check out these archives from a secure holding and then scrutinize them under the supervision of staff. Facilities for further research of less valuable materials would also be offered. As the design developed, the form of my library also became a place that was accessible to the public and began to play a part in the social life of the city also. The design took on the form of a public landscape and in turn became a generous gesture to the city. It offered the space back and allowed for an underused site to be weaved back into the urban fabric. threatened the safety of the manuscripts. The texts were then evacuated from the town and taken to different locations and it became my intention that my library would have the potential to house these materials in such an event in exhibition spaces.

[ form models ]

In the making of the 20 models, as stated previously, I began to explore the idea of mediating through and between spaces. Some of my models started to take very strick orthogonal forms and became very architectural. Others were more free whose purpose was to present the idea of moving through space and not how that may translate into a design. Other models represented the notion of the transition of knowledge between families. This was a theme taken from the manuscripts in Timbuktu and how each member of a family may safe keep these materials in anyway or place but eventually they would pass down to the next generation. Another concept in my reserach was how early forms of the written word were often created with great intricacy and were beautiful pieces of craftsmanship. I therefore went about these models with the idea in mind of creating attractive and careful objects.

[ continued ]

between spaces in the form of materiality and size. I started to look at how some spaces were more desirable than others to approach because of how they were regulated to what their purpose was.

Location Plan | 1:15000

{ site }

The ruins site suited my program well as there was a direct link between the age of the manuscripts and the ruins on display. As a result, I felt their was potential for the reading of these manuscripts whilst observing the ruins and how that may inspire the users of the library in their work. Further, it was a suitable site for my project as the conditions at ruins level amongst the shade and stone suggest a cooler environment which immediately seemed appropriate for my archival library of controlled conditions.

Development of Form Through Maquettes

Stages of Final Layout

The slate facade of the library stemmed from a number of reasons. Firstly as the library’s function is about preservation and containing these precious materials I wanted to use a material which evoked protection and long life. Slate is a non-pourous material, unaffected by extreme temperatures and loss off colour under natural light. It’s non-combustible and protects well against frost damage and these qualities give the building a feeling of refuge, an impenetrable skin for the manuscripts to hide behind. I also chose slate because the form of the building suggests a stereotomic technique that these masses of stone have been carved out of the ground to the ruins below.

Whilst on site I investigated the colours and textures in and around the area. What I found were warm colours and rustic and worn textures. As a result, juxtaposition between the facade of my design and the neighbouring context is made very clear. This again reinforces my intentions of creating place of conservation which is better suited to its counterparts, this time through the use of material.

Site Plan | 1:500

Site model





4 5



1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Manuscript Reading Room Reception Staff Room Manuscript Store Rooms Storage Smaller Desk Space Larger Desk Space

Subterranean Plan | 1:200


1 15





7 7


10 12

11 9 8

13 13

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Entrance/Lobby Reception & Staff Room Storage Exhibition Wall Space Glazed Buffer Zone Large Meeting Room Small Discussion Rooms

9 Glazed Buffer Zone 11 Stairs Down 12 Stairs Up 13 Toilets 15 Desk Work Space

Ground Floor Plan | 1:200





1 2 3 4

Seating Area Bookshelves Seating Area Bookshelves

First Floor Plan | 1:200

Roof Plan | 1:200

Section A | 1:200

Roof Terrain

Section B | 1:200

the design of my library. The work of Paulo David in Madeira helped by the way in which the volumes of the building frame views out over the landscape in the same way that I wanted to provide views down to the ruins and out across the city. Gigon-Guyer’s work inspired me in their use of glazing to allow light into the museum to create a certain atmosphere. This example made me more selective to where I put glazing in my own design.

Manuscript Reading Room

This section of one of the volumes demonstrates further the approach that I have made to materiality. The slate cladding is on every facade exluding those within a room, which is then replaced by a concrete a threshold to a contrasting internal space which evokes feelings of is a man made substance and is a symbol man and architecture’s intervention in conserving these precious materials.

Section c | 1:80

North Elevation | 1:200

South Elevation | 1:200

West Elevation | 1:200

Piazza di Monte Savello  

Jack Cripps

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