Living Library: Marvelous Home with Multi-Story Bookcases

It would be easy to mistake this large private residence for a most public branch library. Stacked shelving and packed bookcases (featuring thousands of volumes) reach up three floors in the main open-plan interior volume, sandwiched between giant panels of heavily-reinforced pre-cast concrete.

A series of floating metal mesh walkways and suspended concrete staircases weave been different levels. Each floor is left incomplete, with gaps and voids allowing views and light to pass up and down. Reading and work rooms are located on upper levels where privacy is deemed not to be a problem, while day-to-day cooking and dining take place on the ground floor, out of public view.

grupoSP sought to take advantage of views and lighting possibilities while using minimal materials and simply structural strategies.?Concrete defines the structure, from the outer perimeter walls and interior masonry-based dividers down to the cast-in-place floors and suspended structural sides.

On either end, large windows bring in controlled daylight while overhangs protect the interior from direct rays of the sun. Private rooms are set to one side of the main space, sufficiently enclosed but with the same open-end treatment along their narrow faces.

The house is successful on many levels (no pun intended). It manages to make use of a notoriously cold and impersonal material without compromising the sense that this is a comfortable dwelling. The design also emphasizes openness and light but manages to make cozy enclosed spaces along the sides and a human-scaled first floor at the same time.

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