This paper aims to contribute to discussion about the changing role of libraries and their collections, through discussing projects designed by architecture students.
The paper reflects on design projects produced by final-year students studying for an undergraduate degree in architecture. A project was set for a group of students to design a “Book Repository”. Each researched their own interpretation of what this might be, given contemporary issues such as increasing digitisation, falling numbers of library visitors, changing users’ needs and what they interpret as a future for books. This paper reviews a selection of the projects in the context of contemporary research, and discusses the book as a physical object, contemporary library design and the role of libraries as civic buildings.
Despite being designed by digitally literate students, physical books are highly significant in every project; however, the cultural significance of the books is more important than the objects themselves. Also, the provision of spaces for the act of reading is notably absent. The relationship between the library and its context was a key theme for several projects, which explore innovative means through which to engage the public.
Collectively these projects contribute to debate over the role of books and libraries in contemporary culture through the eyes of young designers. The paper will be of interest to those involved in the procurement and design of libraries.
The student members of the group whose work features are Sarah Aziz, Alex Bodman, Alexandra Gadd, Lee Newell, Omar Shariff, Liam Thomas and Ross Whittle. Their creativity, questioning, enthusiasm and permission to reproduce their work are much appreciated.
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