Construction: J.C. Sampaio Construções, Lda
Text description provided by the architects. Built in the beginning of 2014 São Paulo Library, in the parish of Apelação Loures, belongs to the religious congregation Pia Sociedade São Paulo, a community of around twenty Pauline siblings seeking to evangelize through several media, in particular through the publisher Paulus. The link with books has a central role in the community life whether through research, study or simply through everyday publications.
The congregation´s home is on a ground on the outskirts of Lisboa, in a rural setting where we can find the residences of priests and brothers as well as the publisher´s installation and their future chapel, under construction. The existing buildings date from 1970’s, are a typical construction from those days, with a structure of pillar/beam assumed, without any ambition on design or use definition: both constructive solutions as architectural ones are quite trivial and mundane.
The library plays a key role in this community and its reading room should be seen not only as a working area, for studying and research, but as a space for the gathering of the community and as a representative space where main meetings and special events could take place.
As designers we set the project on two major key points: the relationship of the community with their books (18,000 titles) and their importance in the life of the congregation, which led us to minimize the presence of a new infrastructure and to expose the books in order to involve users in their own books, as a private, almost personal, collection; the need to simplify the existing geometry, very ruling, subordinating it through a set of inverted boxes on the ceiling, which introduce a new scale and accuracy, trying as much as possible to unify the space making it uno and continuous.
The library consists of a reading room and a deposit room that works as an archive, connected to the reading room but with restricted access.
The walls are lined with wooden shelves to optimize the maximum storage capacity. The shelves are continuous over the entire area, except in front of windows, creating five levels set by the book dimension. In specific situations they extend out of the vertical alignments allowing other features.
The only desk, in the same wood as the shelves, with seven meters long, extends throughout the room, with a capacity for sixteen people. It has a central lamp which ensures good lighting conditions at work but also allows users conversation face to face.
There is also a central module of shelves that increases the storage capacity and prioritizes the research area and the working area on the central table. The diversity and room warmer sense are provided by the covers of the books that occupy the shelves and complement the geometric accuracy of the proposal. From the outset we believed a sense of austerity would invite to the needed silence and serenity, but still show warm and engaged either in working or more formal situations.