ExLibris | Alexander DaxböckNew Building to House the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague
The Position and Mission of Libraries in the Age of Digital Information
This work set out to explore the position and mission of libraries in today’s digital society and the extent to which such institutions will be needed at all in future years; it also addressed how the current wealth of information can be prepared using different media and presented in words and images.
In addition to outlining the history of the library as an institution, the typology of library buildings and the problems posed by preservation and archiving work, this project can also be regarded as a glossary of terms that tries to explain and define all the library-related buzzwords and jargon currently being circulated.
At the same time the graphical representation and images of the project and particularly the building itself are used to play and response to the question of wealth, reproduction and filtering of information nowadays too and show an overlay of different techniques and media, like analogue model pictures, digital 2d-plans, 3d-renderings and freehand sketches, to form so called mixed media images. Showing a moment of scanning and photocopying in highlighting specific elements and ‘important’ data.
Underlying the design section was a competition program, which after extensive research into the kind of premises required and the site that the new building was to occupy was enlarged to accommodate functions considered to be essential to the library’s future.
The basic idea was to organize the building according to function, in other words to divide it into a National Archive and a National Library. The northern part of the building is to house the restricted access National Archive with its very fragile holdings, while the southern part of the building is to contain rooms for private study and seminars as well as a reading room with access to the stacks. This area affords a panorama onto the city, thus making the view an integral part of the building. The possibility of classifying and dividing the functions into ’fixed’ and ’variable’ spaces in order to maximize multi-functionality without running the risk of marginalizing the original functions of the rooms was also considered.
The variable spaces such as atriums and archives were accordingly generously dimensioned and grouped around the basic functions so as to permit an expansion of the building and of each of its functional divisions.
The main book archive, executed as an automated storage and retrieval system is based in the underground floor, which itself serves and provides the whole building via vertical shafts according to any means of logistics and technique.
The library is a place where knowledge is stored and made available, a public building that is open to every man and woman, a repository for the most diverse media, activities and qualities, shaped by the most diverse parameters. It is a ‘connecting element’ between a built-up urban environment and an area of green space and between ’users’ and ’information’.
Designer: Master Thesis, Alexander Daxböck
School: Technical University of Vienna