Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Fractal Library

Hove Library, UK - central space
A well-designed library’s architecture has a fractal structure: the books form a perimeter with maximum length surrounding a cascading series of open spaces, with a central atrium spawning secondary spaces, which in turn spawn additional offshoot spaces, and so on. Library architects try to avoid the use of corridors, and keep as much floorspace visible from the centrally-placed staffed desks as possible ... this also makes it easier to distribute natural ambient daylight around the structure from large windows that typically shine into the atrium-space.  The branching-space structure also makes it easier for library staff to make sure that patrons aren't Getting Up To No Good with the books - even if your location is out of a direct line-of-sight with a staffed desk, someone might come around the corner at any moment ...

The distance from the centre to any book should be as short as possible, and systems like the Dewey Decimal System, which categorise all books into a single sequence, ideally lead to the shelves being arranged into a single (crinkly) perimeter with maximum perimeter and minimum area, enclosing a series of access and study spaces that lead back to the central information desk. Library architects are solving something that is essentially a fractal problem - the fractal organisation extends down through the system to sections, subsections, and arguably even down to the indexes on individual books.

Thanks to Hove Library for letting me take the interior picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment