Anupama Kundoo is unanimously recognized for her low environment impact architecture and the socio-economic context of the projects. Her projects intensively exude experimentation in architecture and use and research of varying materials.
Unbound: Library of lost books is a bookless library, in the form of a pavilion with an animated program of reading.
Project – Unbound: The Library of lost books
Location Plaça de Salvador Seguí
Architect Anupama Kundoo
To mark the 300th anniversary of Barcelona, Spain, International architects in collaboration with local schools were invited to explore various concepts of Identity, Freedom, Diversity, Democracy, Memory, and Europe. Seven interventions designed by various architects were proposed in open, public spaces in the city exploring the above-mentioned concepts which could be subsequently recycled and relocated to other locations.
The term ‘unbound’ represents the idea of liberty and limitlessness. Books within the same theme are distributors and generators of knowledge. They traverse distances being passed down from libraries to different users to writers and publishers. They carry within stories that are not limited to a certain context or culture but are synonymous to all. Today, books are becoming more obsolete with upcoming virtual publications and stories.
Thus the concept of liberty was explored in the form of three umbrella-like structures with vacuum bound books creating canopies in the form of tree shades. The structure caters to the ephemeral nature of public spaces and provides an oasis to read, listen to stories, and for a free exchange of books. It uses the physicality of the books to convey the message ‘Liberation is lightness’ and encourages the people to read.
“The concept of liberty has been explored in this project by creating a space that celebrates the act of ‘reading’ an abode that symbolizes the expression of freedom and space where knowledge is free.”
– Anupama Kundoo
Books made of paper are at the environmental cost of reduced trees. Books today are facing extinction with its growing transition in its physicality and materiality towards a more virtual outlet even though the act of reading continues. The pavilion makes use of obsolete books that are stored away in warehouses and eventually pulped as a building material. Once the pavilion is dismantled and declared redundant, the books used to build it can be distributed or be made available to the public, free of cost to commemorate the event. The project essentially aims to bring back obsolete books facing their end in
- Circulation through using it as a building material
- Liberation through preserving it at the time of the dismantling of the structure and making it available for free exchange in the public realm.
The structure itself creates a juxtaposition within between ‘lightness’ and ‘liberation’ creating a sense of enigma. The structure is a ‘lightweight pavilion’ that uses ‘heavyweight books’. Thus the open-air pavilion transcends the physical attributes of books liberating it of its form to bring the focus on the stories and content of the book. This further acts as a generator of awareness about the importance of reading and books; and the knowledge which empowers one towards progress as a society.
The pavilion is envisaged in the shape of a tree with three canopy structures with differing heights which are supported by a trunk or central member. The structure carries forwards the concept of the design by making use of steel tubular sections of various diameters by the load they carry which flank the central member on all sides just like the branches of a tree. The structural arrangement is achieved in the form of interlocking tubes which further helps in supporting the cantilever with minimum use of materials.
Tubes of a smaller diameter are fitted into the larger diameter which creates a large overhang or cantilever.
‘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 strengthen them.’
The three trees around which the pavilion is built have different diameters and spans i.e. 8m, 9m, and 10m respectively but to achieve ease in fabrication, the same radial assembly of the tubular steel was employed, that was meeting at the same distances and angles.
‘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 has 5 radials. The span of the canopy above remains thus similar and the identical profile assemblies for different tree spans are thus justified.’
The trunk of the trees is supported by concrete bases which are supported by 5, 6, and 7 poles by the varying tree spans. These bases are also used as sitting spaces by the public. These bases are pentagonal, hexagonal, and heptagonal in shape resulting out of the different repetitions of assembly.
‘These varying pentagons symbolize the diversity of expressions of an idea resulting from similar units and scales’.
These radially placed assemblies are further connected through a web of cables that balance the opposing thrusts on either side. The canopy of the structure consists of vacuum packaged books which are assembled as modules and attached to the canopy using cable wires.
By taking forth the idea of liberty and freedom in not only the design of the pavilion but the structural nuances as well, the pavilion fulfills the social, cultural, and contextual intentions at Plaça de Salvador Seguí whilst being flexible and versatile enough to be installed in any other public space. The project has been thought of right from its inception i.e bookless library and questioning the standard notions of a ‘reading space’ right to its dismantling i.e. distribution of the books that are used as building materials.
The project comes around in a full circle making efficient use of the existing resources and materials as well as recycling them with minimal waste generation.