PETER STEC

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Helsinki Central Library Competition

Information becomes increasingly accessible, but also overwhelmingly delocalized. How to organize this dimensionless and ubiquitous flow of data to make it useful? Paradoxically, an example from the pre-Gutenberg era may provide a solution, using one of our most developed faculties – spatial memory.

Prior to the invention of press, long speeches were remembered as virtual "Memory palaces". Their various spaces related to various arguments, interior elements could link to examples etc. We propose to actualize such a palace in the memorable space of Helsinki's Central Library. We propose to link various specific spaces and different media through a connecting "Information Landscape".

The high ambition of the Library is a bet on the importance of place for the transformation of information into knowledge, a bet on the importance of localized access for the expansion of memory. In fact, in any medium, a clear and memorable localization of information elements may lead to novel ways of linking them to create a new edifice of knowledge. By suggesting to locate fiction or science books, recordings or video in precise spots on a continuous but finely differentiated landscape, we believe to bind the spatial experience of visitors to the information content of the media, all exposed and embraced in a visual entirety.

The project follows a lineage of library designs showcasing various book formations directly from main reading spaces. From Boullee's central reading room surrounded by ascending rows of books under an immense vault through OMA's creased and folded bookplates at Jussieu and Qatar, we continue a path of exploration in using books as a material for spatial definition. The proposal folds books around a fluid reading field.

2012. Peter Stec, Mark Blazar and Bence Papp with Anna Psenicka, Miro Straka, Tomáš Letenay and Tomáš Kučera.

Images, Text © Peter Stec, 2013

Web layout based on the Fluid 960 Grid System by Stephen Bau, based on the 960 Grid System by Nathan Smith. Parts of the code released under the GPL / MIT Licenses.