We’ve built you a better ArchDaily. Learn more and let us know what you think. Send us your feedback »

The Long(ish) Read: Walter Benjamin Unpacking his Library

Welcome to The Long(ish) Read: a new AD feature which uncovers texts written by notable essayists which resonate with contemporary architecture, interior architecture, urbanism or landscape design. In this essay, written in 1931, Walter Benjamin narrates the process of unpacking his library. All in boxes, he takes the reader through elements of his book collection: the memories attached to them, the importance he placed on the act of 'collecting' and the process of accumulation, and how objects like books inhabit a space.

Babeliothèque: Reimagining the East Side Gallery in Berlin

As the longest open-air gallery in the world, the East Side Gallery in Berlin is undoubtedly a popular destination for art enthusiasts, historians, and tourists alike. Covered in political artwork, the Eastern side of the largest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall has a strong historic as well as aesthetic presence. The other side, however, seems much more barren and abandoned.

With this contrast in mind, architects Emiliano Lareu and Marie de Testa have developed an idea to overcome the sense of desolation found on the opposite side of the wall. Though the designs are only a concept, they are easily imagined in the context of Berlin’s greater cityscape.

Courtesy of Martin Sabadini, Escena3D Studio Courtesy of Martin Sabadini, Escena3D Studio Courtesy of Martin Sabadini, Escena3D Studio Courtesy of Martin Sabadini, Escena3D Studio

The Chicago Prize Highlights Two Speculative Proposals for Obama's Presidential Library

The Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) has revealed the winners of its fourteenth annual Chicago Prize Competition - The Barack Obama Presidential Library - following Chicago's recent selection as one of three cities being considered to host the presidential library

Inspiring designs across the United States, the winning entries aimed to envision a library that could both recognize the President by displaying a collection of mementos from his life and provide the basis for community programs. Contestants were asked to consider the building's context within the city of Chicago to generate a speculative proposal that not only fosters learning and exploration, but also inspires public discussion. To further encourage creativity, the library's program was unspecified, allowing participants to decide how to incorporate these civic and educational elements in their designs. 

Ultimately, a distinguished panel selected two winners and three honorable mentions emerged from the competition. The winning proposals and honorable mentions are as follows:

Casa de las Ideas Library / CROstudio

  • Project Architects: Adriana Cuellar, Marcel Sánchez
  • Location: Popocatépetl, Camino Verde, 22190 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
  • Collaborators: Gabriela Bendeck, Arturo González, Joseph Ruiz Tapia
  • Structural Engineering: Fernando Arroyo
  • Construction: Grupo LARC Walter López Arce, Berta Sánchez Rabago
  • Project Area: 220.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: CROstudio

© CROstudio © CROstudio © CROstudio © CROstudio

Critics React to Mecanoo's Birmingham Library

With Birmingham's new public library opening last week, Mecanoo's latest large-scale public building has received mixed reviews from critics in the UK. Check out the critical responses from Hugh Pearman, The Telegraph's Stephen Bayley, The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright, The Observer's Rowan Moore, and The Financial Times' Edwin Heathcote after the break...

BNL Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg / BOLLES+WILSON

In 2003, BOLLES + WILSON won a national competition that gained them commission of the new Luxemburg National Library (BnL Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg). After years of hibernation, the 39,000 square meter library will break ground in 2014. 

Follow us after the break for more analysis on the library...

Library Of The Present: Communal Information In Physical Space

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

The Internet is now the library of the past. Where the public library has historically served as the primary source of information gathering and dissemination, we now look to this new virtual, infinitely large library that can be accessed anywhere at any time as the Library of the present. As a result, the primary roles of today’s physical libraries have shifted. Libraries of the past focused primarily on individualized information consumption. Communal aspects of interaction and information dissemination now represent the core mission of the library when information is more easily accessible. The silent grand beaux-arts reading rooms of New York or Boston have of the past been transformed into flexible communal “living rooms” in Seattle.