Compression & Density in Architecture

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Collage, Perspective View, Students

Compression & Density in Architecture

Nicolas Diaz Bejarano @ Master of Architecture student (MARQ), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


The project speculates on the institution of the library in the 21st century through a series of interventions of different scales from that of the piece of furniture to that of the building.

National Libraries are a very interesting typology as they represent the country’s cultural power. Unlike public libraries, they must conserve and preserve every published book within the country, as such this national collection is a never-ending flow of increasing books.

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1.pdfObsessed by the bookstack, the project seeks to understand the tension between, the need to compress and to densify the endless collection of books at Chile’s National Library finite building. The images explore the possibilities of both a volumetric and programmatic clash to reflect upon what the contemporary library should be.

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1.pdf

Bookstack Manifesto – Compression and density in Architecture

The book is more alive than ever. In 2012, Chile published 6,045 new books with an annual growth projection of 10%. As for e-books, the figure reached 327 e-books. By 2027, Chile will have 225,000 new books or almost 20% of the current catalogue that preserves the National Library of Chile. This trend indicates that the physical book is very far from becoming extinct and forces us to ask ourselves the following question:

How are we going to store all these books in Chile’s National Library?

Ingenuous is someone who responds with the construction of an additional storage. The answer lies in strategies of compression and density of the book stack. The word stack talks about cluster or groups of things. In math or computing, a stack refers to a group of information that takes value through its cataloguing. The book stack is the storage space under a series of criteria. Words tell us about giving a sense of order to books as a group.


Who influences you graphically?

The images want to communicate my ideas and concepts behind the architectural proposal rather than presenting the architectural result. I leave the latter to the architectural drawings. In one hand, I always end seeing Julien Pacaud collages because of their composition, and especially the person cutout, tell you a story. On the other hand, I always try to simplify or flatten details to create an atmospheric appeal that triggers the concept I want to communicate. This research is heavily inspired by Dogma, Fala Atelier or Viar Estudio style.

What defined the method and language of representation of the project?

In a Henry Labrouste inspired XIX century building such as Chile National Library, the book stacks or storages are the least important place if you compare it to the facades, entrance and reading salons. I wanted to reveal the beauty of storage spaces whose purpose is to accumulate books, machines, and everyday objects. The representation wants to seduce and trigger curiosity about how is this place right now; to make you wonder why have I never sought it.


Where do you see the conflict between analogue and digital which is now facing the book, developed into the architectural space of the library?

At first glance, we tend to assume that, eventually, the e-book will displace the physical book, therefore, a library as a physical space could face extinction or transform into media spaces or bookless libraries. But a country national library has the endless burden to collect and preserve every book they publish. Even when the digital format takes over, the library will require space for servers, kindles, tablets or any medium to access that information. This specific library, at least, will always demand space to store a never-ending information in a finite building.

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1a.pdfC:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1a.pdf

What defined the way each view was framed and constructed?

All images represent boundless rooms in an existing building. The “proposal 3” series was inspired by the function “store and disclose” of a storage/closet. What happens if you never conceal the storage? It will add objects through time but they will demand a specific order. They will be seen and want to be found. In the long term, through accumulation, an open storage becomes a museum where every object is seen from another room, elevating its value.

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1a.pdf

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsRevit propuesta 1a.pdf

Proposal 4 and 5 explore colliding an everyday activity inside the book stack, a hidden area for the public. Proposal 6 series explores to reveal the concrete grid of the existing book stack and creating a storage tower system that never ends.

C:UsersnsdiaDocumentsproyecto 2.pdf

Proposal 4

6 (1)

Proposal 6

What was you work process in term is project development and production of images?

We had to choose different rooms inside the library and make proposals every 2 weeks. The images helped me to communicate my goals and intentions that would be vindicated with architectural drawings: floorplans, sections and axonometric. I wanted to minimize the 19th-century patrimonial importance of the building in order to discuss my interest in the storage. Each proposal was so minimalistic that the image came first then the project itself, it gave me sort of a greenlight to continue.

What is the effect and purpose of the texture? Does it hint to a certain materiality or atmosphere?

The textures wanted to represent a pale atmosphere that draws the attention to the objects: where and how they are stored. Since all the rooms already exist, the importance is how do we invade them. The bookstand gave so much life to the images, even more than placing person cutouts and that is the final goal of a library program-wise: a place for books.



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