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Second Prize

Agata Balikowska 

“Libre airy” project presents a library for a modern reader who lives in a big city. What is more, the aspect of the park, where the building was appointed, was also very important for me. Hyde Park is a royal park in the centre of London and it functions as the green resting area on the contrary to the strongly urbanised city. Placing a building in such surroundings seemed to be inappropriate and against the idea of this area. I started to think how architecture can make this place more lively and how to allow its users to get closer to nature.

The first thing that comes to mind when one does not wish to interfere with the surroundings is to locate the whole facility underground. However, I wanted the library to be a bright, inviting place, full of sunlight, so I rejected this idea. Besides, who goes to park to sit hidden from the world? But still, there are some parts of the library that don’t need to be lit by sun. Meanwhile I was thinking about the pleasure of just sitting on the park bench, surrounded by nature and losing yourself in the book.
One of the biggest sources of inspiration was the picture of the benches in Hyde Park. In order to be persistent with the sense they give I made the decision to keep such a bench design for the library visitors. That is why I decided about a grid of benches on the parcel. Some of them were covered by the delicate glass pavilions – this is the reading room of the designed library. Every park visitor can use them. It creates a place of meeting in the fresh air and in the meantime it provides the protection against bad weather conditions.
The remaining facilities such as lending room, rooms with multimedia, places of meetings and cafes are situated under the ground. In order to walk to the other part you can use a couple of staircases. Additionally, sunlight reaches this area through several skylights.
The scheme of use is simple: You go underground where you encounter a bit of the mystery and you choose a book or any file that is interesting to you. Then you go upstairs where you can sit on the bench surrounded by the green landscape and other people. There are three pavilions on the site, so that everyone could use them in their own way: one is for calm reading, while in another you can meet other people and discuss, share ideas, or just spend time together.
The construction of pavilions is very delicate and almost entirely made with glass. Both, pillars and ribs are out of this material. Downstairs, the rawness of concrete and the savor of copper highlight that this part of building is under the ground.
It is an amazing library because it does not only provide the access to books and media but it also gives something really crucial nowadays: contact with nature and rest from the typical city atmosphere.