Sandra Martin designresearch

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ABSTRACT The future of libraries is evolving as digital systems make book repositories obsolete. Static libraries no longer fulfil the role of information centres in our mobile lives as they once did. The revitalization of these libraries by creating a new program for thinking and participation within the city is essential to their survival. McKenzie Wark in his interview from ‘Game Over’ in Volume 24 Countercultures acknowledges that there is a greater need for spaces that engender critical thinking rather than spaces of knowledge. How then, does the library keep its relevance as a place of knowledge and learning in the face of an increasingly digitized world?



INTRODUCTION “These are the facts. The old library was passive, asleep, an arsenal in time of peace; the librarian a sentinel before the doors... The new library is active, an aggressive, educating force in the community... an army in the field with all guns limbered; and the librarian occupies a field of active usefulness second to none.” –Melvin Dewey, 1888 The library has always been an idealized place of exchanging information as well as a market place for ideas yet these buildings also serve as a space to collect the majority of human knowledge. Until recently this information was constrained to a physical building where it was accessed but since the digital revolution, information can be found virtually anywhere. As Dewey states, the library is an active entity, an educating force in the community.1 This quality needs to be carried forward as a leading factor in the new function of the library as a place where this knowledge is readily available. As more and more media changes into a digital format, the way we interact with the library changes. In a recent TED Conversation about libraries a few key concerns were brought up about the future of libraries.2 There was a concern that libraries may become museums, simply displaying books much like objects of antiquity. Libraries are transforming more into learning centres as the book itself is becoming less of a central purpose for the library. Also, libraries are in need of smaller branches that offer the atmosphere of learning without the ties to an institution. These concerns are legitimate and need to be addressed by the program within the library in order to remain a relevant space of learning within the city. Digital technologies have been evolving since the 1980s, from floppy disks all the way to CDs and portable hard drives.3 These technologies have slowly become available at libraries to borrow, becoming other sources for primary information such as music, movies and video games. As the digital world progresses the physical books are also getting transformed into digital media or e-books. According to Howard from the Internet Archive, Google has scanned more than 20 million books and

Joseph Janes, Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2013), 7. Jennifer Eustis, “What is the Future of Libraries?” The Celeripedean Blog, December 7, 2011. 3 Brian Edwards, Biddy Fisher, Libraries and Learning Resource Centres, (Oxford: Architectural Press, 2002), xi. 1 2



the Internet Archive a couple million more.4 These books are the beginning of a necessary change that the library must take in order to stay relevant as a space of knowledge and learning in the community. Libraries have already started to expand their reach in the community, not only facilitating interaction between its services and users but also integrating its services in the community. The Free Philadelphia Library has partnered with community organizations to offer free library hot spots in places where the community congregates.5 These services offer authentic community engagement that embrace the diversity of the community served by building strategic alliances, and inclusive and welcoming environments both virtual and physical.6 They must become the anchors that unite the community through access to knowledge and spaces for thinking and participation. The task for designers is to bridge the new program of the library with its involvement in the community while keeping its symbolic relevance in the city. As Edward’s states, “Architects need to manipulate the concept of cultural parameter in order to create a new typological order for the electronic, ideas-rich, knowledge-based library.”7 A new generation of libraries that signal the presence of learning centers effectively must be created. As a designer, my approach to this issue was to examine the interaction of users with digital technology as well as with the digital content. More and more, users of libraries rely on digital content instead of making the journey to acquire the physical copy of a reference book. By turning this relationship around and providing these services at various degrees of proximity to the users we can begin to interact more with the community and preserve the essence of the library. A system of flexible learning space modules placed throughout the city, much like the free library hot spots, which can provide access to the internet and digital content as well as a space for learning and interaction would become the next evolution of the library. The existing libraries can be renovated into factories of these modules which in turn can be deployed to areas of the city in need of development. The modules serve as a source of information about place as well as centres of learning and interaction. The mobility of this system allows the insertion of these modules throughout the city in order to create flexible learning centres which engage with the users as well as the city.

Joseph Janes, Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2013), 15. Joseph Janes, Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2013), 74. 6 Joseph Janes, Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2013), 85. 7 Brian Edwards, Biddy Fisher, Libraries and Learning Resource Centres, (Oxford: Architectural Press, 2002), 258. 4 5



CASE STUDY| STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA We must start by first analysing the existing libraries and their potential for adaptation into the new system. The prime example of a library that would first be transformed is the State Library of Victoria. This building services a larger section of the city as well as carries specific collections of books which would be easier to condense into a select collection viewed as an anthology in an exhibit. Preservation of culture is not just its mechanics. Historically specific sites of shared experiences must also be conserved. The state library is one of these sites where the collective experience warrants the preservation of the building. By analysing the history of the building, the process of its creation, and the impact to its users, we can develop a way to retrofit the building without destroying its significance. The recycling of old buildings has become an approach to sustainable urban development of the city fabric. We preserve old buildings for their meaningful architectural qualities in order to retain these details for future generations.8 By creating a clear interaction between old building and new intervention we can achieve a successful design approach. For a design to be successful there must be a recognizable degree of contrast between the new and old as well as well conceived old and new designs.9 The analysis of the juxtaposition of old and new at varying degrees through precedent studies was the main goal of the first creative research. MORPHOLOGICAL ITERATIONS: PRECEDENT STUDIES The morphological iterations of different precedent approaches to deal with an existing building through addition of new elements allowed me to explore ways of approaching the brief. The eight precedents were chosen based on their intervention into the existing building with minimal damage to the original as well as the contrast of old and new. Each precedent showed varying degrees of change to the existing building as well as the site. Based on site constraints and minimal changes to the state library as well as the front lawn of the library, the precedents were narrowed down to the two options most suitable to use going forward with the design. The morphology of floating above the existing building and the morphology of smaller interventions into vacant areas were chosen to be further developed as methods of approaching the site. (See Creative Research for further analysis) A combination of these approaches 8 9

Charles Bloszies, Old Buildings, New Designs: Architectural Transformations, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012) 18. Charles Bloszies, Old Buildings, New Designs: Architectural Transformations, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012) 12. 4


as well as further analysis based on other site conditions will lead to a new resolved building intervention into the existing library. CASE STUDY|MODULES The next aspect of the proposal is the fundamental design of the modules based on the program of learning and participation as well as catering to the specific communities in which it is deployed. With mass communication, and increasingly ubiquitous high technology, places become more and more similar, so that locations lose a distinctive ‘sense of place’. 10 With increased personal mobility, people identify less with one particular place. By integrating information about the location where the modules are deployed, we can start to break this cycle of placelessness. The module serves as a repository of information about an area, while at the same time catering to functions of interaction, retail and education. There are various advantages to portable architecture like the modules such as construction, economic, legislative, social, aesthetic and cultural. One of the most important aspects of portable architecture is the ability to appear instantly in a familiar setting which makes users re-evaluate their relationship with the environment and the space they inhabit.11 They are a link to our nomadic past, the way people would use the land without permanent damage. Mobile architecture may be a sign of the way we want our future to be, focused on the effect our activities have on the environment and more flexible in the way we operate the world around us. Analysis of this mobile architecture system in relation to the city is the next step in the creative research process. INSTALLATION: MODULES The installation was chosen as a way to test the modular system in order to create various spaces for thinking and participation. By creating these modules that can be assembled in various configurations we can engage the users and analyze how the spaces influence the group sizes as well as the movement through the structure. An assembly of modules that creates larger spaces will allow a larger congregation of spectators to gather and thus create more interaction. An assembly that creates E. C. Relph, Place and Placelessness, (London: Pion, 1976). Robert Kronenburg, Architecture In Motion: The History And Development Of Portable Building, (London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014), 277. 10 11



smaller spaces at a more personal level caters for less interaction since fewer spectators will be able to occupy the space at any one time. This installation serves as a starting point for the design of the final modules that will become part of the library learning center system. The level of engagement of the user with the installation can also be tested through the different arrangements of information panels within the structure. This information can be tailored for different sites as well as users when the modules are sent to different areas of the city. Through the installation research we were able to get some information about how different arrangements of these modules would create specific spaces that cater to learning and participation, yet the environment that they go into is also a big factor in how well they are assimilated into the community. Analysis of three distinct areas in need of redevelopment as candidates for the module system integration is the next step in the creative research process. SITE ANALYSIS: DEVELOPMENT AREAS The site analysis was conducted in three areas of Melbourne where specific development plans were created in order to reinvigorate the community. Docklands, Fisherman’s Bend and Footscray were chosen for their ongoing redevelopment efforts as well as proximity to the Melbourne CBD. Informal Interviews were carried out at each site in order to provide a better basis for the communities’ needs within each area. In the Docklands, a public desire to create more transportation connections and make the site more accessible as well as creating a marker in the landscape lead to the module’s program being altered to a transportation hub. In Fisherman’s bend, public desires to create a more vibrant cultural community lead to the module’s program being tailored to a public performance space. In Footscray, a public desire by the local student population for more study areas tailored the module’s program to cater to their educational needs. By placing the modules in developing areas we can help speed the process in the community and give areas that cater to specific needs in the area. According to E. B. White the significance of place is determined in the building of the architecture not by the permanence of the structures that express this significance.12 Permanent architecture that is truly site specific is rare. This leads to temporary structures having more relevance to sites since they create a sense of transitory place wherever they are erected. 12 Robert Kronenburg, Architecture In Motion: The History And Development Of Portable Building, (London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014), 282.



There are various flexible qualities that mobile architecture provides, making it a valuable resource in the evolution of these systems. These modules offer an appropriate solution in a sustainable manner at an affordable cost which is essential for mass production and dispersion throughout the city. CONCLUSION The analysis conducted into this topic was further carried within the studio proposal in order to formulate a comprehensive system of modules and libraries within the Metropolitan Melbourne Area. The development of the factory program within the State Library site allowed the building to become a more public centre in the city stimulating interaction and participation throughout the site. The modules were adapted to specific sites in need of development throughout Melbourne and catered to the needs of the community as dictated by the development plans of each area. The program of factory was adapted into the existing library and storage of the modules was solved by the manifestation of the modules on the facade. Community involvement in the redeveloped building was crucial as that becomes the driving force for the module creation. Creating various spaces for interaction and testing of these modules in the existing library was necessary as different areas require different approaches by the modules. The images that follow show the proposal for the State Library of Victoria’s adaptation as well as concept designs for modules in various parts of the city. As more research is ready on the topic and new technologies continue to develop, further refinement of the concept must be done for both the library’s program and the module’s design.




Docklands Module

Fisherman’s Bend Module

Footscray Module







Study area view

Forum area view

Russell Street view 10


ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY Atelier Bow-Wow: BMW Guggenheim Lab. Researched how their projects create situations and places of interaction rather than objects. Their projects have installation like qualities that deal with human interaction and behavior that is shaped by the space created, and can be modified by the user. Austin, Richard L., David G. Woodcock, W. Cecil Steward, And R. Alan Forrester. 1988. Adaptive Reuse: Issues and Case Studies in Building Preservation. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. The book talks about how historic preservation is imperative for old buildings yet not to preserve them as museum pieces but to give them new uses. It goes through theories and philosophies then gives specific examples of projects where these theories have been implemented. Bloszies, Charles. 2012. Old Buildings, New Designs: Architectural Transformations. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. This book highlights the relationship that old buildings can have with new design. It explores the importance of preserving old buildings through a blending of new design to reinvigorate the program without destroying the original buildings essence. Bollack, Françoise Astorg. 2013. Old buildings, New Forms: New Directions in Architectural Transformations. New York: Monacelli Press. A discussion of various projects that deal with the adaptation of old buildings to a new program. The projects are divided into five categories: insertions, parasites, wraps, juxtaposition, and weavings. It shows that modern design can complement and enhance older structures without detriment to its integrity. Cerveny, Ben, James Burke and Juha vant Zelfde. 2011.”The City is Becoming.” The Internet of Things, Volume 28. (2011): 61-65. Amsterdam: Stichting Archis. The city is made up of the day-to-day life of its inhabitants creating patterns of information. The urban fabric is rather static even though complex systems of life are found within. Research into behavior of these systems has been prevalent yet the next evolution has a more dynamic approach through the study of the rules which govern the system and its ethical implications. There are two ideas in this article: first creating a catalogue of vacant and wasted spaces to be provided to the community in which they



can express a public demand for potential uses and the second is the urban node which consists of a platform for controlling dynamic environments. Edwards, Brian, Biddy Fisher. 2002. Libraries And Learning Resource Centres. Oxford: Architectural Press. This book goes through all the phases of a library, from its history to its creation and the steps needed to secure funding as well as space layout. It describes the different typologies of libraries and how they work. It also conjectures on the future of libraries and the role that digital media has in their evolution through new building typologies that merge the new technology with older media in one fluid space. Eustis, Jennifer. 2011. “What is the Future of Libraries?” The Celeripedean Blog, December 7. The blog is a review of the TED conversation topic dealing with the future of libraries. It summarizes the key points made by various contributors. Some of the highlights are that learning centres are more appropriate as the next evolution of libraries, the services provided by the library have to be more accessible, and that libraries need smaller branches that offer the atmosphere and less of the institution. Hoy, Meredith. 2014. “Activating Space: Augmented Reality and Postmodernism.” V1B3 (blog). 27 March 2014. An exhibition featuring Augmented Reality works, which show how space can be altered to become an architectural and social construction. Through the use of personal computer devices, which have been criticized for their separation from real social and spatial connections, the user becomes a tool for interaction and activism. Janes, Joseph. 2013. Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. This publication is divided into individual points of view of how the library in 2020 will be perceived. Different aspects of the evolution of the library are addressed with predominance towards digital advancements and community involvement shaping the change. Various chapters were helpful in regards to copyright law and the restrictions to book digitalization and access in libraries based on current copyright laws. Other chapters focused on the role of the library focusing on user interaction as the heart of the community, where people met for activities or to learn skills.



Jones, W. G. 1995. “The disappearance of the library: Issues in the adoption of information technology by humanists”. New Directions for Higher Education, no. 90 (1995): 33–41. doi: 10.1002/he.36919959005 This article focuses on the reliance of scholars on libraries for research and how the digitalization of media will slowly change the way libraries operate based on copyright laws, thus continuing the existence of libraries for the foreseeable future. Kronenburg, Robert. 2014. Architecture In Motion: The History And Development Of Portable Building. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. The book goes through the history of portable architecture from tent structures to modern experimental pavilions. Of note is the section on the value of portable architecture, in which the flexibility of these portable buildings can adapt to newly mobilize social and commercial environments. Lee, Sul H. 2008. The Emerging Research Library: Our Role in the Digital Future. London: Routledge. This book explores the emergence of a new form of library based on issues such as new publishing models, reallocation of spaces, preservation of past knowledge, changing user behaviors, and improved access to information. Libraries must become facilitators of research in the information age by abandoning past practices, using new digital media, responding to emerging user behavior and promoting open access initiatives. Relph, E. C. 1976. Place and Placelessness. London: Pion. Geographer Edward Relph discusses the phenomenology of place, and the significance to human experience. The last half of the book focuses on Placelessness and how areas can give an authentic or inauthentic experience based on use and habitation. The creation of placelessness is done by making standardized landscapes without significance of place. Roudavski, Stanislav. 2008. 'Staging Places As Performances: Creative Strategies for Architecture'. Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. The thesis is about architecture’s interaction with research and performance through the exploration of interactive installations and virtual environments. Engagement through participation, observation and investigative designing allows a focus on place as performance.



SANAA: Rolex Learning Center. Researched the spatial arrangements and flow of the learning center in regards to its structure and configuration in order to take advantage of interaction and learning by the users. Snohetta: Ryerson University New Student Learning Center. Researched the program and spatial configuration for the Learning Center based on the demands of the University as well as the site. TR Staff. 2005. “The Death of Libraries?” MIT Technology Review, May 1 (2005). This article addresses the concerns of digital media eliminating the usefulness of libraries. It gives to factors that determine this outcome, the rate at which digitization and display technologies advances and the evolution of copyright laws and practices. Uffelen, Chris Van. 2010. Re-Use Architecture. Salenstein: Braun. This book is a graphic representation of a vast number of projects where new additions were made to older buildings in order to redevelop their program at various degrees of intervention. They are organized in sections ranging from culture, living, mixed use, office, and various functions. Wark, McKenzie. Interview with Yukiko Bowman and Julianne Gola. 2010. ”Game Over.” Countercultures, Volume 24. (2010): 16-17. Amsterdam: Stichting Archis. In the interview, McKenzie discusses that we no longer need spaces of knowledge; we need spaces, practices or media tools in order to encourage critical thinking. It is about thinking conceptually as a collective practice towards a changing future. Zaha Hadid: Library and learning Centre University of Economics Vienna. Researched the spatial configuration and programmatic arrangement in the learning center based on the needs of the users and the university.



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