A design led investigation exploring the future of public and civic space in modern society, specifically how we reinvent the library as a public institution.
As a studio, the overarching design challenge we have orientated our individual projects in is creating a 'Livable Dundee City Centre'. Existing issues we identified included; a lack of green space, public realm quality, poor standards and variety of housing, disconnection from surrounding communities and a lack of access to basic amenities. We then set about addressing these key issues in our individual design research project.
In my project, I seek to investigate two key challenges.
- Restoring connections between surrounding communities and the city centre via the historic Wellgate route.
- How we can move the focus of our city centres away from privately owned retail centres towards a future where social infrastructure, such as libraries, are valued and integral parts of society?
In this project I have designed a new Central Library for Dundee, repurposing and retrofitting part of the existing Wellgate Centre to provide a modern library that caters for a multitude of programmes thanks to its adaptable and flexible spatial design. Providing Dundonians with a modern library with facilities and services in a space that instils a sense of civic pride is an important part of giving future residents spaces and places that increase social capital. Beyond this, can the way we address privately owned monochromatic retail such as the Wellgate, serve as a precedent to other UK cities looking to detach their city centre's futures from capitalist retail ventures?
Library Gantry - New Dundee Central Library
Patrons on the top level of the new library's gantry enjoying views through the reading carrel windows over the restored historical Wellgate and through the sun louvres towards St. Andrews Church and the new public plaza gardens below. The two levels of gantries can also be used to spectate the multifunctional performance and exhibition space below.
Programmatic Section Diagram - New Dundee Central Library
Sectional diagram showing the organisational relationships within the proposed Dundee Central Library. The public can access the building from either the upper level at the Hilltown, or from the lower level towards the new public plaza and the Murraygate. More private elements of the program such as reading or study spaces are located higher up on the 3rd and 4th floors allowing casual activity to flow through the more transient levels below.
Reading Carrels - New Dundee Central Library
Reading carrels are designed to give visitors spaces to read and study while being able to watch the busy activity of the restored Wellgate route below. These reading carrels are designed to help reinhabit the partially retained concrete frame structure from the existing Wellgate Centre.
I truly believe my work has something important to add to the conversation about the way society currently prioritises architecture and urban development that doesn't contribute towards building a robust and beneficial society, and how we begin to change that.
I'm not sure where my interest in social infrastructure and civic/public spaces will take me in my career but please take the time to read my thesis. If there is something in there you wish to discuss further or think we can collaborate on or even have a project you feel face similar challenges then get in contact with me.