1 Conceptual Description
‘The Library of Lost Books’ is a bookless library with a live program of reading. The focus is on the content of the book and the act of reading. ‘Unbound’, a term that relates to the description of books, also expresses liberty and the idea of plenty, of limitlessness. The theme ‘liberty’ is expressed through creating a place that celebrates ‘reading’, a place that symbolizes an expression of freedom, as a place where knowledge is free. Knowledge is empowerment, and knowledge will lead to progress and freedom. This is appropriately expressed as an ‘outdoor’ place under the ‘shade of trees’ where everybody has a good memory of having read a good book in the sense of freedom, free from the confines of walls of buildings. Yet, books ‘the building blocks’ of society are facing extinction. Transition/evolution in the ‘form’ of the book through time has led to books becoming lighter, losing their materiality, now often only virtual. However, the act of ‘reading’ continues. Books, as beings in transit, pass through the hands of many readers as in libraries, rather than sitting on shelves of owners, or still with publishers. ‘Obsolete’ books locked in storage about to face their end, are rescued from pulping, brought back in circulation, and liberated, and are available for free exchange.
‘Obsolete’ books will be recycled as a construction material, to build a canopy which will give shade to those who engage in ‘reading’ and ‘listening to stories told a loud’ or those engaged in ‘freely exchanging’ books without exchanging money. After dismantling, the books used to construct the canopy will be available to the public as a souvenir commemorating the event. Liberation is lightness. These are light-weight structures for heavy-weight books that transcend the sense of ‘weight’ to focus on the perception of the ‘light ‘element of the book: content.
Books made of paper are at the environmental cost of trees. Recycled books are used to reconstruct trees as a symbol of the acknowledgement of these resources to create an open-air library for ‘reading’.
2 Technical Description
Three canopy structures of different sizes and of varying heights, called ‘trees’, shade the existing square of Salvador Seguí through central supports like trunks. The technical design is a reflection of the symbolic intention of using knowledge to ‘liberate’ the structure from its weight and express lightness and effortlessness. The structure is constructed out of steel tubular profiles of varying diameters according to the load they carry just like in branches. Smaller diameter tubes penetrate the larger diameter ones leaning outwards to progressively create a large overhang. The penetration of tubes is enabled through precise laser cut apertures in the larger diameter tubes. The subsequently smaller diameter tube penetrates the larger tubes twice to establish a triangulated geometry in the joints and strength them. This arrangement of interlocking steel tubes achieve a large cantilever with little material. Although the trees have different spans, 10 m, 9 m and 8 m diameter respectively, the same radial assembly is used in each tree composed of the same tubular profiles meeting at exactly the same angles and distances to achieve ease in fabrication through repetition.
Yet the loads in the different trees differ significantly justas the span of the canopy does. While keeping the same profile of the structural component, the proportionate distribution of load is adjusted by reducing the number of radial support assemblies. The largest tree has 7 radials; the medium tree has 6 radials and the small tree has5 radials. The span of the canopy above remains thus similar and the identical profile assemblies for different tree spans are thus justified. Heavy concrete bases receive the trunks, that are assemblies of 7, 6 and 5 poles respectively. The different geometries in the 3 trees resulting out of different number of repetitions in each case is indicated through the polygonal design of the bases that are pentagonal, hexagonal and heptagonal. These varying pentagons symbolize the diversity of expressions of an idea resulting from similar units and scales. The radially placed steel profile assemblies are connected to each other in the central area through a web of cables to balance the outward thrust of each through the thrust of the other in the opposite direction. At the top the ends of poles are connected through a web of steel cables.
The canopy consists of a fabric made of plastic-wrapped book modules that are assembled together and attached to the structure using cable wire. The plastic wrapping is the same as the vacuum packaging of delicatessen items like ham and olives and symbolize the attempt to extend the shelf life of the book and create the association of a highly valued though familiar object.
3 Associated Mobile Structures
Urban furniture will be created as a temporary seating that will be a playful expression of outdoor landscape. This will be made out of ‘obsolete’ books but will show the materiality and versatility of the object of the book. While it is sad to treat these obsolete books as redundant, it is also intended that society can confront the reality that everyday huge amounts of ‘obsolete’ books are being burnt, or sent for pulping. Our society is generating large quantities of books that are eventually destroyed, and while drawing the attention on the content of the book and encourage reading, it is also an intention to save the destruction of these and attempt expressions of its further reuse.
A mobile vehicle for facilitating ‘free-exchange’ of books that can be stored in the Filmoteca space where it can continue as a space of ‘free-exchange’ of books by the visitors of the Filmoteca so as to secure the furniture and the books from vandalism.
1 Reading and listening to stories read out loudly in many languages including those of the immigrant local inhabitants of the neighborhood. These are managed through recordings of interviews that are played back through speakers on the tree structures, and through organized events where actual reading takes place by volunteers and invited guests, authors, publishers and those interested. Children will beat the center of the program that is planned with special readings organized for them. Children will read to others, and adults will read to children.
2 Free exchange of books among city inhabitants in the organized open-market sessions. There will be no money exchange, just ‘free exchange’ among people strengthening community.
3 Screening of special films centered around reading through the involvement of the Filmoteca, such as The Dead Poets Society or La Tête en Friche(My Afternoons With Margueritte).
4 Discussions through seminar/panel sessions organized in the Filmoteca in relation to the films screened.
Photo © Javier Callejas