This poster showcases work from a studio project run by the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Adelaide. The Barr Smith Library “Library of the Future” project was used as a reference and guide for final year Architecture Masters students. Associate Professor Julian Worrall and Judy Bailey, the Architecture Research Librarian, worked collaboratively to assist students to develop their responses to general questions on the future of the library.
“This studio topic aims to reinvent the library, an institution and a social and architectural typology that is seriously threatened by technological and social changes, chief among them being digitalisation and privatisation.
In its idealised manifestation, the library is a mysterious, evocative space. An emblem of knowledge, learning, civilisation itself, Michel Foucault saw the library as one of the defining institutions of modernity, a “heterotopia” devoted to a complete and fully indexed reflection of the world itself.
The book is the atom of the matter of the library – yet under the impact of digitalisation, the internet, and the portable reading device, this atom is disintegrating – becoming perhaps pure intellectual energy, disseminated and consumed virtually.
As a haven, a refuge, a space traditionally free from intrusions of commerce, an end in itself, the library upholds the ideals of an accessible public space. Yet our era is one in which the public realm is splintering, atrophying, and being slowly starved of funds; while divided and diverse private domains expand to fill void.
In response to this situation, this studio asks its participants: what new hybrid configurations, scenarios, programs, and typologies are plausible to sustaining the promise of the library?”
After a three week period of collective investigation into the situation, metaphors, precedents, and elements of the library, resulting in a 50-page research book, nine students defined their individual responses and identified a site and program through which to advance their ideas. The resulting responses were as stimulating as the sites and programs were diverse.