Borges, the Library and the Infinite _ Marco Atzori
The library, perhaps more so than the museum, is the space of knowledge accumulation and stratification, even as the museum has in recent years been the subject of deep reflection with regard to its typology and its typological programmatics. Although the library has tended not to be subject to the consumeristic processes that have shaped contemporary museums, the politics of urban landmarking have nonetheless altered its formal conception.
Amid the rise of various new forms of knowledge and considerable technological changes in communications media, the traditional library has been a declining presence in lieu of particularized and specialized subforms: the mediatheque, the hemerotheque and the ludotheque. Finally, given the necessity to create new forms of public space, more condensed and differently capable of being intrinsically attractive, the library has been the site of expanded programmatic options.
Libraries—and places of culture in general—have increasingly become locations for the representation of public space. Densified in terms of their program, places of contemporary knowledge have introduced and welcomed urban chaos into themselves, and have moved away from the immutability of space imagined by Borges in his novel “The Library of Babel” (1941) and demonstrated in Louis Kahn’s Exeter Library (1965-1972). Into the contemporary library has encroached the city and its sense of time.
We can no longer imagine metaphysical and timeless spaces, but areas in direct contact with the contradictions of the present time. The concept of the library is losing its sacred aura even as it takes on the new possibilities connected with reality.
This interpretation of complexity defines the lines of research represented by the projects that will be analyzed in this article. Their materials and forms, as well as their programmatic strategies and functional distributions, evince possible solutions for libraries of the present and future.
Fuses – Viader Arquitectes
A Silence for the Long Haul _ Marta Gonzalez Anton
When the inauguration of the Regional Government Headquarters in Girona—an ambitious intervention on an architectural and urban scale within the historical center of this city in northeast Spain—took place one and a half years ago, only a handful of local media talked about the new renovation and extension, designed by Josep Fuses and Joan M. Viader, of the former Hospital.
The work of these two architects, both of whom graduated in the late 70’s from the School of Architecture in Barcelona, seems to be accompanied by a (desired) silence. Their careful and thoughtful grasp of the design process, in a scheme moving away from arbitrariness, from frivolous solutions, leads them to remark, “It must be the project itself which interprets the world, which speaks of reality and of its transformation, which generates from within itself all of the questions and all of the answers.” The architect, in this perspective, seems to be a noiseless tool, a mute means in the creation of the ultimate main character: the building itself.
Their inconspicuous approach to the work does not seem to require the continuous corroboration and promotion of the various media, for that matter. The fact that most of their projects are located in Girona—a historical town of 96,000 inhabitants located halfway between Barcelona and the French border—and in the surrounding area, likely assists that stillness. In an interview released on the occasion of the official opening of the project mentioned above, the architects justified the silence of the public as a synonym of conformity and complacency regarding the final result. They point out that “musicians are the only ones to get applause before the performance” and consider that an architectural project can only be judged with time, once the new building has been long used.