Climbing libraries…

I seem to be sharing more and more of my creative likes and loves at the moment…what gets me inspired through the day and catches my attention, distracting me for a second, making me smile. I fear sometimes that I am writing less and less on here about my academic thoughts and the development of my PhD research. You guessed it, it’s PhD Wednesday again. It seems to come round so quickly, where I get caught up in playing Rachel admin catch up, blogging, having meetings with Shanghai creatives and friends, drinking too much tea, unintentionally singing to music I’m listening to whilst trying to write…and reading, reading, reading…always finishing the day with ballet class and tired ballet legs, a contented mind and a well-deserved drink to celebrate the productivity. It’s always a productive day.

So, today I thought I’d share something which I intend to have in the house that I will one day build…well I won’t build it exactly, but I hope to make it happen and help to design. They are stairs as bookshelves or what I call “climbing libraries”. They represent how I feel sometimes…walking, stepping, climbing up, through books, pages, words, language and meaning…one day I’ll get to the top and I’ll be called Doctor. I will base my staircase on a design by Tim Sloan of Levitate Architects. It is an alternating step design that rises twice as steeply as conventional stairs, turning into an extraordinary library…a ‘secret’ staircase hidden from a main reception room to give access to a new loft bedroom. Using English oak as its material, the shelves are completely lined with books…it becomes a space not only to scale up to the next level of the house, but a place to stop and pause and read.

I like how the books have been put together by colour and size…formulaic and systematic. This made me think of one of my favourite photographers…Candida Höfer and her series ‘Libraries’. She is ‘known for photographing rooms in public places that are centers of cultural life, such as libraries, museums, theaters, cafés, universities, as well as historic houses and palaces. Each meticulously composed space is marked with the richness of human activity, yet largely devoid of human presence. Whether it be a photograph of a national library or a hotel lobby, Höfer’s images ask us to conduct a distanced, disengaged examination through the window she has created. Not purely architectural photographs, her rhythmically patterned images present a universe of interiors constructed by human intention, unearthing patterns of order, logic, and disruption imposed on these spaces by absent creators and inhabitants. Her photos of ornate, baroque interiors achieve images with extreme clarity and legibility while the camera maintains an observant distance, never getting too close to its subject.’ I have always wanted to buy her book of this series but it’s just so expensive…one day I’ll have it and it will sit on one of the shelves of my climbing library. Until that day, I need to carry on reading, writing and climbing…

Candida Höfer, Fisher Library Philadelphia I (2007) C-print.

Candida Höfer, British Library London IX (1994) C-print. 41 x 49.8 cm; (16 1/8 x 19 5/8 in.)

Candida Höfer, Pierpont Morgan Library New York IV (2001), C-print. 152 x 186 cm; (59 7/8 x 73 1/4 in.)

3 responses to “Climbing libraries…

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