It’s fairly safe to assume we can all agree that books infuse spaces with texture, colour, depth and character, adding a sense of comfort and a certain warmth. In this increasingly digital and intangible world we live in, books and libraries give us a sense of security and the familiar, at the same time evoking a certain thirst for knowledge – a child-like wonder. Having said all this, unless you’re at Hogwarts, libraries can be a fairly uninspiring place to hang out. Rows and rows of boring books, spines of which are hardly the material de jour for architectural masterpieces. Without so much as a floating bookcase or levitating random book to keep you engaged, how is one to entice the reader into the Hallowed Halls? How do you take piles of books and construct an interior that not only encapsulates the reason for the space, that is to sit and read, but also takes the same space to a whole never level that actually makes one want to submerge into it? These exceptional examples of libraries (and bookstores) across the globe not only engage the mind, but invigorate the soul… and without so much as an abracadabra swish of a wand.
The Sea Library in Awashima, Japan by ETAT Arkitekter
What do you get when you mix Scandinavian design with a Japanese aesthetic? A symphony of beauty, simplicity and extraordinary detailing. Stockholm-based Erik Törnkvist and Malin Belfrage of ETAT Architects have designed this little library dedicated to the sea. The space is located inside a 1920s schoolhouse on Awashima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. The Library is part of the Setouchi Triennale 2013 – it is a place where visitors are invited to donate books about the history and stories of the ocean.