Register: APR/07/2019, Submit: APR/10/2019, Eligibility: University students; individually, teams with any number of members which can be from different countries, cities and universities, Fee: 50 EUR (JAN/14 – FEB/10/2019), 75 EUR (FEB/11 – MAR/10/2019), 100 EUR (MAR/11 – APR/07/2019); +22% VAT, Awards: 1st Prize 7,000 EUR, 2nd Prize 5,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 3,000 EUR, 10 Honorable Mentions, 30 Finalists Mentions
Libraries are one of the most fascinating architectural examples of the history of mankind. As the library of Alexandria and the more recent masterpieces of contemporary architecture, the library has always been the center of collection of collective memory. It has always been the place where human experiences could be preserved, crystalized, made eternal. They could be passed on from ancient to new generations. In a way, the library has to do with eternity. It connects thoughts and experiences beyond space and time. It does so because it is a place, which human beings build in order to draw from the experience of their predecessors. It also does so because first of all the library is a great information collector. Up to date, history has been passing on such information through the union of paper and ink: books. Books used to need a specific archiving and consultation space. However, in the era of dematerialization, of virtuality and of the 4.0 world, information has become an impalpable sequence of codes. They are intangible sequences that any device can consult and decode in any moment and any place.
Consequently, on one hand the virtual space is expanding. On the other hand, the physical space is losing ground. Now, including all the places that used to be constant elements of humankind over the centuries have to change connotations and features.
The library is not a place of preservation and consultation anymore. This is because now the access to information goes beyond books.
Therefore, what is the future for libraries? What is the library of the future?
On the basis of these questions, the University of Genoa is delighted to launch Future Library. This is the design competition that invites young people from all over the world to think about the future of places dedicated to learning and knowledge. Through architecture, they will design a completely new model of learning space.
Currently, the virtual universe offers unprecedented opportunities to have access to information. However, it entails uncertainties too. The speed and efficiency of research and archiving spaces conflict with the reliability and soundness of the sources. This is the never-ending dispute between tradition and innovation. While new and ancient compete for the heart of culture, designers have the opportunity to interpret this change. They will have the chance to originate a new architectural model aiming to orient the international debate about the evolution of cultural spaces.
The space where the learning space will be inserted is an iconic space. It is the area of the former library of the Physics Department. The center of Valletta Puggia is located on the slope of a hill that slopes down towards the sea from the Fortress Forte di San Martino. It seems to be the most consistent materialization of the identity of Genoa. It is a building grasping the slopes in between the Apennines and the sea. The building is a massive artifact. It is a huge element on a sloping ground. With its configuration, overhangs and almost industrial shapes, it evokes a modernity dream with a remote taste. The building is as the mammoth and unintelligible legacy of a faraway civilization. It is a heritage that suggests the atmospheres that are close to the heart of Yuri Shwedoff and other visionary artists. In the bowels of the building, thousands of students carry out their university activities. They walk in its maze of classrooms, corridors, offices and study rooms. At the top of the building, the large space of the former library will be a blank sheet to host the ideas and experimentations of designers. Books have been transferred and collected in one single new space. In this empty space, which is now free from books, there will be a new model of space for study and learning. It will be a space dealing with the future and the new ways to consult and search for information.
The digital revolution has involved architecture much more intimately than what common perception acknowledges. Innovation does not only mean the progressive sensing of space, the exuberant domotics or spaces that are increasingly responsive and interactive. Defining innovation as such means being highly inaccurate in describing the ongoing change. The real nature of the changes that we witness is the migration of the numerous activities from the analog world to the digital world. Once, we used to carry out several actions in a specific place or through a specific instrument. However, such actions are now part of the network. The digital world is freeing physical space. Architecture disciplines physical space. Consequently, it is intimately involved in this change. That is why Future library invites designers to think of the surviving space that architecture has to focus on. Study and access to information are not linked to a place anymore. Nevertheless, in the library there is still an element that technology has not managed to completely dematerialize yet: relationship. Debates, collective work, creative action, interactions between individuals are at the basis of study and knowledge. All these elements still need spaces. For this reason, the learning space model will have to be a strongly relational space. It will have to promote relationship. At the same time, it will have to protect an individual dimension that is equally essential to learning. Supporting relationship means creating flexible, liquid spaces. These spaces will have to change according to the different studying and learning models adopted by different users. The modularity and flexibility of the architectural spaces can be possible solutions to encourage such approach.
- Studying pods; they will be spaces for collective study (5 or 6 people). They will be equipped with suitable equipment to present and debate workshops or group works (projection systems, recording systems etc.).
- Studying oasis; they will be isolation elements. Here the student will have the opportunity to live a completely individual experience with information.
- A space for meetings and video-conferences (for 20-25 people); it can be expanded by including other adjoining spaces.
- A room for seminars and collegial meetings (for 20 people; it can coincide or overlap with the previous room).
- Common spaces.
- There will not be spaces dedicated to the restaurant area since they already exist or because they will be designed in other areas of the building.
- The equipment in the space of the former library (excluding the glass wall) will have to be maintained.
- Any space layout project has to include the essential necessary systems (sockets, lighting points, phone cables, internet connection etc.).