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First Prize

Alexandre Biselli 

The Ever-Fleeting Library

The idea of the traditional library—a place where selected human knowledge accumulated across centuries is available to the community—is dead. Accessibility of content through any device with an internet connection is something that the traditional library cannot compete with.

Because of this, study places—traditionally a function of the public library—are increasingly decentralized with, for example, coffee chains around the world providing working/studying tables and wi-fi access for consumers. Therefore, the 21st century library cannot be limited to provide space and knowledge as this has become ordinary.  Furthermore, the curatorial process, which determines whether something is worthy of being in a public library or not, cannot keep up with today’s constant production of content.

Although the traditional static library is done, books are not. For its practicality and collectability, the printed book is long to be dead. With the combination of a new developing technology—virtual reality—and an older one—all-in-one book machines—the Ever-Fleeting Library is created.

By wearing virtual reality glasses, a 3D library becomes available at the lowest floor. Each user, with a few correlated searches online, can have their personal library according to their own interests. Every new correlated search transforms their entire library. There, the user can preview 3D virtual books. Upon desiring a physical book, the user can command the server to print it in one of the book machines, then simply wait for it to slide down.

The virtual library floor is placed below ground level, so it can be seen by people on other floors as a way of reflecting on our highly technology-immersed, human-disconnected society.

The remainder of the building comprises generous reading/working spaces, coffee stands and restrooms. People may bring their devices, bring their books or print them on the spot. In other words, the Ever-Fleeting-Library has no collection. It is in constant flow of people and knowledge.

Many elements in the project are a combination of old and new, as mediation between the value of tradition and the progress of technology, such as; the book-machine spiral resemblance to a chandelier, the re-interpretation of the traditional Japanese street light used as the machines on/off light, the traditional checkerboard tiles used on the virtual library floor, use of wood, etc.

The building is placed in the project area in a way that does not obstruct pedestrian flow considering existing pedestrian pathways, structures and buildings around it. In its frugal size and toy-like appearance, the building is an icon of Japan’s ingenuity. Its operation represents Japanese culture’s willingness to accept and embrace the new.