exterior concept visual looking into the libraries glass facade. note the large community style work tables to the right.
Libraries used to be the pinnacle of learning. But recently, the media and technology have changed that. 
In the 21 st century, it is no longer sufficient for libraries to continue to subscribe to old methods – the library can no longer only retain knowledge. It must now expand on its ambitions and become more representative of modern society. This can only be achieved through a profound shift in its design, not just physically, but also on a more fundamental level. 
The library must be reinvented.
 
Project Team
Shiran Sooriya-Arachchi
Krishan Jayatunge
Jelte Ten Holt
Liana Rosnita Beer
 
Introduction
Between 2004 & 2005 we won a limited entry project to conceptualize, masterplan, design detail and construction manage the interior of the Art, Design & Media Library at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. At 19,000 sqft & considerable cost the library itself was to play a pivotal role in the life of the students & staff that used it. In our digital blink-of-an-eye age a project of this nature demands rigorous investigation, iteration and blue-sky thinking.
 
TILLING THE SEED. THE CONCEPT 
The libraries of the past were hunter-gatherers. Monks worked together to amass words,to retain them and keep them safe from the ravages of time.

For many people, this out dated view still largely shapes their modern perceptions of what a library should be.

We have moved away from this view, as libraries are now more than just storehouses. They should be places where the proverbial seed can be sown and cultivated.

They should become the facilitators of learning.
a slide from the original presentation to the library, universities teaching staff & buildings architects
Over-sized word-scapes label & indicate form & function in the libraries spaces 
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey influenced the logic & design rigour of our library.
Learning as a Verb (Gerund) 
Learning is not a static activity so it should also incorporate disagreement, noise, epiphanies and community. There should still be space for individuality, order, silence and self-realisation, thus this library has spaces dedicated to both.

Since darkness (i.e. a street late at night) naturally inspires silence and well-lit areas (such as a shopping mall) inspire noise, we have created something called ‘Light Coding’ to tell the different areas apart. We refer to the well-lit areas as‘Active’ and the silent areas as ‘Passive’.


Silence and Darkness
The Passive areas will feature dedicated lighting, concentrated on areas where the students want to focus. By depriving the overall environment of light, we minimise distraction and maximise the impact of the information at hand. The world falls away as the student sinks into their material.

in the physical centre of the library the information heart of the library is celebrated with a structure called the database access
from this zone students access the libraries vast book, film & games database. the industrial aesthetic a nod to sci-fi films & machine architecture
Light and Sound Active areas, on the other hand, will be dedicated to group work and a certain amount of noise will not just be acceptable, it will be expected. It will be an environment where students can heighten not only their IQs but also their EQs.

To supplement this purpose, discussions would be provoked. Students would be prodded into questioning their long-held assumptions, so that they might gain more confidence in what they could defend and correct what they couldn’t.

housed within the database structure is a copy centre. the bridge element holding the buildings ahu ducts, communication systems & lighting for the students bar below (not shown here) 
Wall of Contention
Our mind-scapes consist of barriers and corridors, placed there during our formative years. These include – for instance – the laws of physics, assumptions, logic and self-deception.

We will build a physical wall to challenge these mental obstructions called the Wall of Contention.

This wall will display radical statements about Media, Art and Design that will incite debate and drive the students to reevaluate their fundamental beliefs. In this way, they will discover if their beliefs were built on solid foundation or were nothing more than castles in the clouds.

Kubrick paid particular attention to font design using helvetica through-out 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Incubator 
Within the Active part of the library, there will be one place that we have dubbed 'The Incubator'. This classroom cum group working space has been designed to give a group of students both privacy and community, with the space being available for debate or for lectures.

Just as the space can be used indifferent ways, so too has everything in it been designed to be multi-purpose.With their functions blurred, the students can be made to see design, art and media in a different light.

A KNOWLEDGE FACTORY: THE CONCLUSION
Each space within this library has been created with specific objectives in mind, working constantly, consciously and subliminally to promote knowledge acquisition.

Everything has a function, though not every function is meant to be immediately obvious. In this way the students can continue exploring the library, even as the simplicity of its layout leaves the library intuitively accessible.

Though it strives to embrace an ideal of communal learning, it does so by building on the foundation that was already provided.

What we propose is not a revolution, it is simply evolution.

a short section drawing through the database access structure
a short section drawing through the incubator structure
an early proposal showing a shelf stack graphic end panel indicating book categories
the secondary book counter positioned at the libraries midway point - where black meets white, the individual meets the community & silence meets noise
a detail of the libraries signage. a layer of laser-cut hairline stainless-steel letters against a hand painted gloss white floor plan on a rendered cement wall. the concept is the juxtaposition of hand & machine crafted materials.
a spiral staircase takes students to a THX certified private screening room & an xbox play space.
the database access search bar in the centre of the library provides the information heart to its services
a view from the dark-side of the library towards the light-side & the information counter between. Note the monolith inspired book directory.