The Ark Booktower
For the 1:1 – Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition in 2010 the Victoria & Albert Museum invited nineteen architects to submit proposals for structures that examine notions of refuge and retreat. From these nineteen, seven were selected for construction at full-scale and lucky for us one of them was The Ark Booktower by Rintala Eggertsson architects.
6,000 books fill the space and there is a reading space at the core of the 3-story tower. All the spines face in so one must enter to discover the treasures within.
Introduction to the installation:
As we are reaching the end of the first decade of the 21 century, we are witnessing the consequences of human domination on the globe. Global warming, food crisis and collapse of unhealthy economical structures are some examples. At the same time, estimated 500 species of living creatures vanish Slowly, people are waking up to the reality.
With this project we want to offer information of the biodiversity on this planet. If one looks at the nature from outside, one cannot see and understand its complex beauty and vital balance. We need to get back on the grass-root level of understanding the world. We need to get our hands dirty and our mind clean. To know it more is to love it more is to preserve it more, or at least destroy it less.
A wooden free-standing tower structure is placed in the National Art Library staircase hall corner, lining with the existing pillars. The visitor is invited to choose an alternative, literature-filled promenade through the stairwell-space. One is able to choose an interesting book and withdraw to sit and read it in a peaceful one-person reading space in the core of the tower. Inside the reading space will be installed a reading light. This light will shine outwards through the structure, casting scattered light on the surrounding gallery walls, inviting readers like night lantern lures moths.
The books are second-hand/ recycled/ would be otherwise destroyed, and have been collected from publishers, libraries and universities during 2009/2010. Outside, only white paper is shown of the books, creating a unified minimal wall surface. Interior is a contrasting collage of colors, titles and themes. To learn of the contents of the books, one has to enter the tower.
all photos by Pasi Aalto