Language is universal. It is a spectrum that is ever-changing and diverse. Language can be deconstructed into its basic elements, but it can’t be preserved in the same form. Because of its constantly changing dynamic character, it becomes an intangible cultural resource. While some languages are extinct, some are invented every day. But language dwells everywhere in the world, and architecture can simply provide a space that makes the users experience it.
Our general idea of museums has been of artefacts displayed around the space with descriptive explanations. The users of a typical museum are only passive recipients and not actively involved in the system of conserving the subject. An abstract like language requires the users to be more than just spectators.
In the context of the city of London where people speak a diverse range of languages a museum of language could only be created by inviting people to experience spaces where language is not merely an artefact but the very function. The aim of the proposal is elevating language as the only defined function and deriving spaces around it. The objective of the design must be to invoke users’ movement and behavior in a certain way by manipulation of proportions and interaction patterns.
The proposal is a simple set of five types of spaces that are made distinct from each other in terms of volume and therefore, experience. The user enters the Museum through a parallel series of walls that form galleries and pockets of interaction. All the paths of the galleria lead to a passage, an ambiguous space between the gallery and the open expanse ahead which forms the core of the design, in terms of space and function. The core is circular in plan and becomes the podium for interaction between people. The lines of sight from all points of the circle lead to a shaft of books that continues to the roof. The shaft is envisioned as a floating entity that can be accessed from beneath. The shaft is conceptualized from an idea of a universal library that at once belongs to all languages and no particular language.
Further ahead almost mimicking the galleria is another set of walls characterized by a frame that forms small modules of spaces designed for one individual. Every frame opens into the landscaping that almost overlaps with the building. The vista of the landscape gives the space a sense of calm isolation.
The entire space is in transition, the users, ever-moving along with the constant evolution of thoughts in their minds – language being created and exchanged. This transition is held together between a simple ‘platform’ and a grid roof that follows the same lines as the galleria.