In the stand of trees just up out of the clearing occupied by the cylindrical Capilano University Library, one can dream of a small cluster of domestic-scaled reading rooms to house the library of George Bowering.
To evoke the strong geometries of prehistoric structures made of brick inside and out—the oldest, simplest, and most plastic of building components—is to evoke the authentic and the timeless. In the monumental brick forms of Per Kirkeby, the exceptional brick churches of Eladio Dieste, and Richard Serra’s quasi-cylindrical masses, such as Junction / Cycle (2011), there is the sense of gravitas. The spatial character echoes the interstitiality of stands of old spruce and cedar and the spacing between the different-sized domes in the Kariye Camii and the volumes of Bramante’s plan for Saint Peter’s. In the forest the forms appear as ruins, fragmentary like Francois Racine de Monville’s Désert de Retz colonne brisée or like the enormous hollowed out stumps scattered among the treed slopes of the North Shore of Vancouver.
The tall vertical silos emulate the grand but protective forest experience. Accessing the interior through catenary arched apertures—like those found in nature—one is sheltered in the enveloping circular and basic shell form. Light filters in from many directions registering the times of day, the tall openings formed and placed to afford views to the surrounding trees. The reading room interior is ringed with a framework of cast bronze book shelves and fitted with bronze light fixtures, tables, and stools forming articulated jewel-like aedicules of space welcoming the book collection.
Uniting the spirit of nature and of the mind, a primal and contemplative place, above all, for the pleasures of reading.
From Sacha Milojevic’s “Dreaming a Space for Books and Reading: Project for a George Bowering Library” from TCR’s Bowering’s Books (Fall 2014).
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