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THE NEW LIBRARY - Rebuilding an Ancient Glory

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Author Topic: THE NEW LIBRARY - Rebuilding an Ancient Glory  (Read 7115 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #90 on: May 06, 2009, 06:17:53 pm »









The design alludes to the past by symbolism rather than by borrowed elements of previous style, but Snohetta is reluctant to place its design into any of the pigeonholes of modernism; rather, it is "deliberately timeless." Dykers feels most content with the category" associative modernism; rather, it is "deliberately timeless." Dykers feels most content with the category "associative modernism"- since the building "can contain associations from different cultures during different periods of time."

The cylinder that comprises the main building is 160 meters (525 feet) in diameter. Its circular plan, which echoes the hieroglyph meaning "sun," could be taken as a symbol of the sun or, as originally envisaged by the architects, the moon. "We went into the desert and spent some time observing the shapes there," said Dykers. "Two of the most striking images in the desert are the sun and moon as they emerge from the horizon. Our building tries to reflect that sensation." But Josefson stresses that the symbolism is deliberately open to different associations, "depending on the viewer's cultural background and personality".

The possible imagery of the sun and moon is reinforced by the dramatic rise and fall of the building above and below ground. The highest point of its tilting roof is 32 meters (105 feet) above ground, and the building descends to 12 meters (40 feet) below ground level. Burying part of the building counteracts the high humidity of the area and helps to provide secure and controlled storage for precious manuscripts. It also gives unparalleled insulation against noise—and meets the requirement that over 50 percent of the building be windowless. In symbolic terms, however, the past, rooted in the geology of the earth, and the future, rising toward the weightlessness of space. Another symbolic interpretation suggested by the architects is that the tilting of the roof opens out to the Mediterranean, Europe and the West, a gesture intended to enhance the relationship among the cultures of the area.
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Bianca
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« Reply #91 on: May 06, 2009, 06:18:43 pm »









The interior of the building will consist of seven primary and 14 secondary levels in the form of terraces, all within one great cylindrical volume. The "stepping" of the floor plan avoids the claustrophobic affect common to many libraries. The views within the interior are not obscured by the height of the book stacks; each terrace will have viewing platforms to allow for unobstructed visibility.

Natural light, admitted by the dramatic angled glass roof, will be diffused and controlled by a complex system of baffles like upside-down umbrellas, which will protect manuscripts from the harsh direct sun. Balconies will allow access to the outside within the security of the library building.

The massive curving outer wall of the library, built of concrete with a reddish stone finish, will be covered in calligraphic carvings of varying depths, evoking the rugged appearance of cliffs along the Nile. The design, by the Norwegian artist Jorunn Sannes, is an abstract composition of letters from different ancient and modern languages; the architects initially thought of using a piece of text, but, said Dykers, "whatever statement we tried to apply wasn’t important enough for this context."

About two-thirds of the building will be surrounded by water. The level surface of the pool will emphasize the tilting motion of the structure and provide dramatic reflections of the walls. The water will also serve as a cooling device. The pool will contain plants, carefully chosen to make it self-cleaning, and small spotlights arranged in the shapes of the constellations at the time of the ancient library.

Pedestrian bridges will pierce the great cylinder of the main building to link the library to the bay and to the university nearby. In front of the cylinder will be a spherical science museum and planetarium, clad in glass and stone, set within a pyramid-shaped excavation, like a scoop of ice cream in an ice-cream cone. A ramp will allow visitors to descend into the "cone" below the sphere, so that, like Atlas, they can almost hold it in their hands. Much of the site will be hard-surfaced landscape set with palm trees, to stand up to the impact of crowds of visitors.
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Bianca
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« Reply #92 on: May 06, 2009, 06:20:36 pm »









In more ways than one, the new library will be far more public than the ancient one can ever have been. Electronic systems and scientific databases will allow researchers all over the library's wealth of material. While the original library's intention—to collect the writings of all nations—is now an impossibility, the storage of titles on various electronic media will give vast potential capacity to an international library with ambition to become, like its predecessor, universal. And the transfer of manuscripts onto optical disks will guarantee a more lasting conservation than scores of scribes, recopying works onto papyrus, leather and cloth, could have done in the past.

To make this design come true, Italian information consultant Giovanni Romerio was appointed project manager of the Alexandria Library and head of its executive secretariat in February 1992.

Romerio, who has worked with UNESCO since 1974, said his agency singed two contracts last October with Snøhetta and its Egyptian engineering partner Hamza Associates. The design phase of the project started on December 21, 1993, and should be completed by August 1995.

The remainder of the project is divided into three packages, Romerio said: excavation and foundation work, construction, and final-phase work such as air-conditioning, painting and furnishing. About 10 companies will be selected as subcontractors in a prequalification bidding on May 16 of this year, with actual work to begin in October and to finish by December 1997. "We plan to open in 1998, with a minimum of 50 employees, and then go up to 500 people," Romerio said.

As of January of this year, GOAL had raised some $65 million in contributions from the Arab world—including $23 million from Saude Arabia, $21 million from Iraq, $20 million from the UAE, and $1 million from Oman. Egypt's own contribution comprises the valuable site itself, and the $20 million conference center, already completed, to be associated with the new library. At the other end of the scale, a $1000 check recently arrived from tiny Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

"The situation has changed a lot just since the signing of the two contracts," Romerio said. "There is deepening Egyptian involvement in the project, and I think Western nations would like to participate as well, but they want to see a good start."

In fact, the Italian government has pledged $500,000 to fund the International School for information Studies that will be component of the new library. Both Belgium and the United Kingdom have also promised to support the Alexandria Library through scholarship and educational and scientific cooperation. And that's not all.

"Turkey has signed a protocol to give us copies of manuscripts and documents that date back to the Ottoman Empire and its relationship with Egypt," Mohsen Zahran said. "Greece will support the Hall of Fame at the library's entrance, where you will see busts of great scholars of the ancient library, primarily from Greece. Queen Sofia of Spain has promised to donate copies of books, documents and manuscripts that pertain to Arab culture in Spain. And President Mitterand has said he would instruct the French Ministry of Culture of Support the project with equipment and manuscripts.

"Our hopes are very high."






Jo Newson

is a free-lance writer and editor
specializing in architecture and design.
She was formerly editor of Mimar magazine.



Larry Luxner

is a free-lance journalist based
in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a
frequent contributor to Aramco World.




This article appeared on pages 24-29 of the March/April 1994 print edition of Saudi Aramco
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Bianca
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« Reply #93 on: July 10, 2009, 07:51:37 pm »




             









                                      A Beautiful Mosaic in the New Library of Alexandria






ArchaeologyNews
July 10, 2009

This fragment of a mosaic floor, showing a dog alongside an overturned bronze jug, was found during
the construction of the New Library of Alexandria.

It is now part of the library’s museum.

The mosaic is extremely detailed; the dog’s red collar can clearly be seen and the artist has carefully modelled the reflection of light on the bronze jug. It likely dates to the Second Century BC.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 07:56:05 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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