Book machine
by Arquine Magazine | Mar 20, 2014
Steel and glass are the materials of the impressive shelve construction. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach

The “Vasconcelos Library” by Kalach Architects opts for a combination of building and botanical garden, articulating the zone comprising Insurgentes Norte, the Buenavista train station (abandoned but on the way to be reactivated) and the Guerrero neighborhood. The modernization hinged on restoring the building’s centrality, something it had lost many years before. The extensive concave edifice is 250 meters long and 30 meter high, and lets in light through its slanted walls and roof, from which clusters of shelves full of books are suspended.

From the sequenced spaces of the reading rooms along the sides you get a good view of the totality of the structure. The identity of each room or cubicle is not the product of its own particular characteristics, but of its situation with respect to the great central space that forms the central backbone of the library. Each item on both sides of it is subject to the same symmetrical rigor: the design is based on a transversal section. On the outside, the horizontal blinds protect the reading rooms from direct sunlight, while ensuring that they nevertheless are suffused with natural light. The sawtooth roof succeeds, both formally and effectively, in introducing sunlight into the very depths of the great central space.

The edifice is essentially one great bookshelf designed as a standalone steel-and-glass structure suspended from the roof beams. In addition to this main structure there are three attached volumes integrated into the gardens: one contains office space, a second the bookstore, and a third, to the north, the auditorium. The skeleton of a whale–a contribution by artist Gabriel Orozco–hangs in the middle of this colossal space and reinforces the very essence of this imposing shed.

The article was first published at Arquine.

The skeleton of a whale is a contribution by the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach
The hanging bookshelves characterize the impressive space. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach
The library looks like a machine. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach
Views into the foyer of the 250 meter long building. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach
Floorplan ground floor. Drawing © TAX | Alberto Kalach
Gardens surround the building. Photo © TAX | Alberto Kalach