Andrew Dawson, Francesco Miniati, Daniel Kealty and Geoffrey Lan
The Varna Library proposal provides a negotiation firstly between the physicality of the old and new city and secondly the symbolic role of a cultural institution in a changing world. Located adjacent to the municipal town hall, the proposal reaffirms an existing precinct while commenting on the formality of public architecture.
The building entry is set on a continuous ground plane leading from the Osmi Primorski Polk Boulevard into the ground floor of the library. Primarily housing public activities, this accentuates the level of accessibility and transparency. The spatial hierarchy of the building reflects the development of the building as a living system. As such, library spaces housing complex knowledge are located on the upper floors while the children’s book section and play areas reflecting the early stages of knowledge development, are located on the lower levels. In a similar pattern, the connections between each area of the library are designed to mimic the functioning of a neuron system; a central core that then splits into smaller pools of knowledge which in turn branch into reading areas.
The building form is dictated by axial cuts reflecting the complex historical layering present in the city. Such complexity is further emphasised in the materiality and structural systems, all of which are displayed and expressed to support the living system. The building mass is split into four building pillars separated by impressive void chasms. The splitting of the building mass provides a fragmentation of the experience of storing and accessing knowledge. Not unlike the brain hemispheres, experiences are created within the main envelopes with connections and activities moving between the spatial zones.
The proposal is a celebration of the city of Varna, its cultural and historical complexities as well as the universal pursuit of knowledge. In doing this our proposal reflects on tradition to create a playful and engaging library that is inviting, open and transparent.