The Hierarchical Library – My MA project

The design for the Hierarchical Library stems from my intent to use the time on the MA course to develop my own design philosophy, based on how I have approached projects in the past.
By analysing the work I had done previously I realised that I particularly enjoy manipulating the experience of the users in the space. This manipulation can involve a sharing of an experience, developing shared emotional responses and therefore deepening the psychological connection with my work.

I then began looking at public spaces and suggested what I thought their main controlling elements where, for example a prisons most controlling element is freedom, and a schools would be behaviour. I decided to choose one of these public spaces and mix up the controlling elements to come up with a function and atmosphere for my design. I chose a library controlled by Freedom and Status.

As I was doing this I was experimenting with different techniques used to evoke emotion within environments. One of the most influential to my work is Peter Eisenmanns Holocaust memorial in Berlin, a grid layout of varying heights of contrete slabs. The site was designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. I found that even though the grid layout gave you sight of an exit from the space at all times, it still felt very claustrophobic and intimidating. I therefore decided to use grids in my design, which would gradually become less and less with the levels of the building, creating more space the further up you went, offering more freedom and in turn referring to status.

The library offers much more than a standard university library, by allowing students to grow from their experience within the space. It works by a swipe card system and restricting access to students at different stages throughout their current project.

When a project is started the students library swipe card begins with access only to the basic library area, the Book Research Area. Here they are to carry out relevant research sourced from the books for their current project.

Once their tutor believes them to have done adequate research in that area, the tutor will accredit the students card with access to the next level, where students will be able to use the computers to further their research. Again after this section has been completed to the tutors satisfaction the card will be activated to access the next level.

This order of events continues, with the tutor being in control of how much attention the students put in to each stage and when they can progress.

The idea is that this system will encourage students to participate in the correct level of focus in each area and give them the desire to progress in order to complete their work. It links to the desire for freedom and status.

The central glass structure was inspired by the motion of crushing a can through frustration as I felt this represented how the students could be feeling by being able to see through the glass at the people who have reached a higher level than they have.

Gradually the feeling of having freedom and a higher level of status is increased by using psychology to determine colours and layout for each space and by the lessening of grid density. When the student reaches their goal, finishes their project they get too relax in the reflection lounge at the summit of the building, an open space, designed to be the height of the freedom and status journey they have undertaken.