The proposal for the Daegu Gosan Public Library competition, designed by École Architects and AAKAA, consists of a massive cubic construction, in stark contrast with the surrounding cityscape. The singularity and unexpected nature of this landmark building is legible at once, without, however, bearing the trace of any logo, or distinctive sign of its function. It is its absence of obvious identity – its apparent neutrality and slickness – that consecrates it as a singular landmark. The library projects no further identity than its mass. More images and architects’ description after the break.
From the outside, the library stands out by its dimensions (34.5 m x 34.5 m x 34.5 m), its sharp edges, and the rupture it generates with its surrounding. The building’s cinder block façade is by-and-large blind, with the exception of the entrance. The façade reveals nothing of the building’s interior. It is the simplest expression of the space it contains.
The chosen material for this outer wall (cinder block) contributes to producing a sense of enclosure. The entrance door mediates the relationship between exterior and interior. Its off-set position further contributes to dissimulating the scenic attributes of the interior space, and the various modes of occupation that it enables. The resulting interior is self-contained, quiet, and virtually free of external influences.
A central square column emerges from the entrance level. The resulting continuity is underlined by the use of the same ceramic tiling. The column erects itself over the full height of the library. It lodges the staircases and elevator. The staircase allows a vertical circulation between four levels: 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor and roof terrace. It is a long ascending pathway to a venture point. It is both intimate and exposes the visitor to views of the building and its grandiose verticality. While most of the building consists of open plans, two solid enclosures run through the first two levels. They are meant to lodge technical program elements.
A 3-dimensional grid structure of 2,75m cubic frames runs through the building, generating interior spaces and supporting its own weight. The assembly of cubic frames makes up the skeleton of the stairway and two decks (the roof-terrace and the main flooring). The cubic frames are panelled with duckboard when they are mobilized as flooring or see-through partitioning elements. The cubic frames can be mobilized as anchoring points for a variety of light partitioning methods (curtains, etc.).
The building’s structure provides the necessary space for the allocation of the library program. Most of this space is relatively open and flexible. The plans suggest an illustrative example of such occupation and space allocation for the main (non-technical) program elements, which are deemed to evolve over time.
The first floor, at street level, temporarily distributes a number of common, educational, experimental and technical functions. The entrance leads directly to main information, check-in and book check-out services. The machine room and toilets are enclosed, while other functions (multipurpose room, language lab, classroom, seminar, etc.) enjoy a more open disposition and delimitation. The second floor is dedicated to the library’s material collections. The available surface is smaller than for the other floors, as large openings let natural lighting through. Collections are mostly disposed around the walls and around the openings, but also in the preservation room (collapsible storage system). Staff preparation and dressing rooms are also located on this floor.
The third floor is the main library volume. This open plan hosts the reading functions, data corners, and offices. Upon entering this space, the building’s monumental verticality is experienced at once, opening up to the portion of sky corresponding to the interior floor area. A central staircase, enclosed in a monumental tiled column, produces another event underlining this verticality.
The main staircase leads up to the rooftop terrace, venture point to the city and surrounding mountains. The see-through flooring (glass and duckboard) looks down to the main library hall.