The Hartlib Library:
This project is an opportunity to create a more appropriate facility aiding the continual transcribing and translating of the documents as well as the production of an edition of the papers in electronic form. The new centre also puts an emphasis on study areas (both public and academic) where continuing research and learning from the papers is encouraged. This aspect is very much in line with Hartlib's own philosophy of knowledge; which he regarded as a public resource, rather than a proprietary preserve, and to this end the new building is a monument or celebration of Samuel Hartlib's life and works.
The new library is located in the main University Campus between the existing main library and one of the original 'red-brick' buildings. As well as satisfying the demands of program, the new building can also contribute to a wider urban need. The original university building (now the administrative centre) and subsequent additions have been loosely organised around a 'square'. However, inconsistent building lines and too many 'leakages' prevents the square from being a successful public space. This development is an opportunity to fill a void in the urban fabric and thus increase the sense of enclosure. The site also links a public park with the square and so the issue of 'threshold' between the two domains is vital.
The project also gives rise to the architectural dialogue which can be played out between the new and old buildings - how new responds to old in general and how the entrance of the existing library (currently somewhat underplayed) can be enhanced in particular.
Ben Gibson's project for The Hartlib Library is a deceptively simple, cool, elegant building that is sensitively placed on a tight, difficult site. It respects the adjacent listed building and thoughtfully creates a new pedestrian route. The proposal is very accomplished, controlled, mature work for degree level. It was assessed at a first class level and is supported by thorough precedent and technical studies.
The papers of Samuel Hartlib constitute a unique and valuable archive that creates a comprehensive picture of seventeenth century European intellectual culture. The Hartlib Papers Research Project at Sheffield University is responsible for transcribing and translating the documents as well as producing an edition of the papers in electronic form.
The intention of this design project is to create an appropriate facility where the papers can be safely housed and exhibited, and which would also provide a focus for continuing research into the diverse range of subjects which they embrace. The accommodation includes public and specialist reading rooms, an environmentally controlled valuable book store, exhibition space and a lecture theatre.
The Hartlib Library is the major Third Year Project (12 weeks in duration). Its general intention is to encourage an integration of the diverse range of subjects covered in the degree course.
Assessment was based on the following criteria:
- Awareness and understanding of design precedents
- Successful integration of the proposed design within the existing context
- Consideration of character of external spaces created around the proposed building
- Development of a coherent design strategy and its integraton with the technical aspects of the design
- Consideration of qualitative aspects of the major interior spaces