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Second Prize

Marc Ribert Arqués 

“SINCE STONEHENGE, ARCHITECTS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY.

AND YOU CAN’T SEPARATE TECHNOLOGY FROM THE HUMANISTIC AND SPIRITUAL CONTENT OF A BUILDING.”

-SIR NORMAN FOSTER

 

Traditional y, libraries were a space of encounter between man and wisdom, turning books into something not only durable but perdurable. In a way, building a library meant building a shelter, a hiding place for the most precious treasure. The current culture also has its own “books”. Or do we not revere smartphones, tablets and the rest of technological devices as a treasure? Can we deny that they are, above all, volumes capable of “containing” and “showing” knowledge?

The main difference between these and the other “books” lies, precisely, in their lack of “perdurability”. They are a treasure, yes, but clearly ephemeral, tied to throwaway cultures. In the current era, a col vector of antiquities is more modern than a countryman who still has an iPhone 4. And, unlike the old books, ours seem to progressively tend to a smaller size: think careful y about the first computers, that occupied square meters of room, and in the insignificant device from which you are now reading this text. The anti-library of our time must be built from all the discarded technological devices, turning into a small-sized, “perdurable” piece made out of smart small bricks.

That is why either a library or its anti-concept must respond to a social, humanistic question. When scanning contemporary cities, not only in Japan but anywhere around the globe, we realize that the scale of metropolis grows faster than any other living organism. Fabrics of giant moles colonize the forgotten, gentle perception of the traditional living spaces, in order to satisfy the demands of a capitalist society. This matter seems especial y worrying in the eastern powers, whose traditional architecture and building techniques used to be a source of inspiration and knowledge. An affordable, precise and meaningful construction has undoubtedly been replaced by expensive, uncontrolled, nonsense monsters.

Therefore, this project seemed to have a single goal: that of building an empty box. Surrounded by grey giants, a small piece would lay in a flat surface of water, giving the pedestrian a first picture of the blue sky. Its basic, opaque geometry would only break in a small hole: and you would enter it, for sure. Now close your eyes and imagine a dark corridor. You’re afraid. You still hear the urban noises, still smell the smoke of cars, but you ain’t see them. You see nothing, but a rectangle of light. You walk towards it. Where is everything gone to? Suddenly, you feel it. The nothing. You smell it. The clay, the trees, the flowers. You hear it. The water, the bees, the birds. And, if you look above, you can see it, almost grab it: the perfect sky. The library would give up designing multiplicity, to create a single void: a space to frame the above, a place where people meet and gather under large, sloping Japanese roofs. Instead of a single place to keep books, books that keep a single place.