ben brady


I am working on my thesis now.  I am basically trying to understand the intersection between digital and physical space through the library.  I have done quite a bit of research on libraries in the last few months and find them to be some of the most symptomatic space to the problems of competing digital and physical space.  The physical library as it exists today cannot exist for much longer as a relic of the way we used to learn.  However, the promise of the digital is clouted in physical problems and legal ans economical problems.  I actually feel like I have a good understanding of the problems faced in the contemporary library, but what I have yet to understand are the architectural implications of the research.  I am beginning to feel burdened by the problems facing the library.  I think that media is in such flux right now that almost any physical library would be insensitive or at least have to be imagined as a completely temporary solution.  I began thinking about a library of the future but I began to move away from that idea.  After reading so much and trying to understand the ideas about the future I have determined that it might not be such a good idea to try to understand the future.  Also, stuff is changing so fast that designing for the future would be too much of a guess and I think is antithetical to the way people are learning aand the way things are moving with the digital culture we are seeing the dissemination of knowledge and a redefinition of collaborative work and experience.  I think the idea that one dude designs the future library is too similar to the problems facing the current institution of the library.  That being said, it also doesn’t seem that the design of the library should be left entirely to to the collective, to the digital mass.  Anyways, I have to figure all this out soon.  I have strong feelings about the library but I am unclear as to how I should operate on it.

For now I am starting with provocations, just to get me going.  I am considering the possibility that my thesis will consist of many (up to 20) small projects.  20, formal investigations into what the library is/could be.  The intent isn’t to solve the problems facing the library, but maybe to show them more clearly through speculative projects.  The projects wouldn’t all be fully resolved, but would begin to ask more questions than they solve and I think that is probably the best thing a thesis can do for a discourse in such flux as the library.

The image above is one I worked on today.  Basically in this provocation for the library, you have to imagine a world where we are completely digital but there still remain pockets of people who need/want the physical book.  In this case, the city has become so dense with building and land in the city has become so valuable, that the physical storage of knowledge can no longer itself justify a central site and large scale public building.  Instead, this building operates like a vertical, laundry-mat machine but with books.  It is 700feet tall (+ a 500 foot pier drilled into the earth for support) and only 10′ wide.  It this case the library has been pushed to the parts of the city that are otherwise unused.  The library is placed in between 2 tall buildings in a city in the alley.  There is one reference desk facing the sidewalk and you just call for the book you want and it rotates like a Ferris wheel to the ground to you for checking out.  There is no public space…nothing, just storage of physical objects in the smallest footprint possible.  It’s basically like redbox for books but it would have pretty much everything.  It wouldn’t matter how you organized it just as long as the person operating logged into the computer which bin it was placed in.  There is no browsing…there is nothing…only the book.


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