Multimedia Library

Rethinking Libraries in the 21st century
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Designer(s) : Ammar Yasser Mohamed

University : Helwan University

Tutor(s) : Dr.Yasser Sakr

“At the moment when the electronics revolution seems about to melt all that is solid – to eliminate all necessity for concentration and the physical embodiment – it seems absurd to imagine the ultimate library”

Rem Koolhaas / Tres Grand Bibliotheque

 The project’s objective is to explore the relevance of the traditional library in its physical form within the digital age and re-establish the library as a symbol of society’s collective wisdom and knowledge.

The advancements in technology and the development of the different types of media have freed the knowledge from the monopoly of the book and established new equality within the means of communication.

The ambition of the project is to exploit this new freedom by incorporating the different forms of cultural expression into the body of the traditional library to create a sort of a culture condenser where these different forms of media would interact and produce some unexpected results; Thus, the cultural institutions would move towards a hybrid entity.

The project is inspired by the perception of the library as a place of wonder and discovery, which is perceived beyond its limited physical existence but rather its virtual existence, as an infinite space that exists in an atemporal state. It does this by comparing a library to a theme park

The building denies homogeny and fosters diversity and focuses on the dense architectural environment by juxtaposing different architectural experiences that in itself reflect abstractly the diverse nature of the virtually dense library space. This culture of density and juxtaposition is a product of the digital revolution. Thus, the project is a traditional library conceived with digitally inspired architectural thinking.

The Context

The project is situated in the New Administrative Capitol in Egypt which is an interesting site because it is a fresh attempt by the government to establish a new identity out in the untouched desert which brings a kind of freedom to the architectural expression free of any historical or geographical constraints.

 The White Cube

The maximum flexibility and openness of the modern libraries, exhibition spaces and museums create a neutral architecture (a generic white cube), this approach has been exhausted and outdated.

The contemporary needs of these typologies demand an approach that goes beyond the neutral white cube to legitimize the physical existence of these typologies in a contemporary setting

The Matrix

The Design of the project functions as a matrix in the interaction of the Spaces with the activities of the program to create a new form of flexibility in which the program is housed in various architectural configurations to produce different experiences:

on the horizontal level of the floor that houses the same program is being experienced through different spaces and geometries, and on the vertical level the geometry is being experienced in a different context on each floor with a different program

The Project Elements

Instead of designing the project by creating an architectural narrative for the user to experience which limits the number of architectural “events”. The design of the project consists of working with distinct elements and superimposing them together to create an almost infinite number of small architectural events that the user can experience and develop their distinct architectural narrative.

These elements are the Geometry of distinct architectural forms of unique special configuration which houses the Program and The intruding spaces “Suprematism” that acts as complementary spaces to the geometry.

 the Geometry

Dividing the building into separated parts gives a room for the light to reach the centre of the building in addition to enhancing the visual accessibility between the different activities of the program, thus, fostering Happy Accidents and Serendipity.


The intruding surfaces help adapt the main special configuration to each function and activity of the program.

It is introducing disturbing the harmony of each part of the building by intruding on a new unique experience.

The surfaces can be walls, Slabs or ramps and each play a different role depending on “the Context”.

The Program

Each floor houses a different activity within the same spatial configuration; therefore, the activities are not defined by the spaces but by the use of the spaces in terms of furniture and finishing material which gives each floor a new experience

The body of the traditional library acts as a host for different media by shuffling the program parts (putting a small cinema, exhibition space, listening station, a bookshelf in the same spaces)

a form of serendipity or a surprise

The Envelope 

The challenge of designing an autonomous envelope that represents a diverse architectural work is in its lack of a consistent identity. Therefore, the exterior skin works as a symbolic representation and a continuation of the function of the building (a library, museum and art gallery) for display.

The building’s outer shell functions as an extra space for display and as a reflection of the diversity within the building. The envelope relies on the juxtaposition of different faces; each displays a unique aspect of the project