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York Modern Library

Part 1 Project 2001
James Mills
University of Huddersfield Huddersfield UK
What are libraries? Where are they going? How do we identify with libraries?

These are the questions I asked when taking on the challenge of libraries. Looking from its beginnings to the end of the 20th century, I felt that libraries had lost their former glory of being a place of learning and discovery, a landmark of the surrounding urban fabric. This is reinforced when visiting libraries built in the 1980's and 1990's by local councils as classic examples of libraries designed for the sole purpose of renting books and studying.

In time of economic exploitation and human social exploration, libraries have to offer more to become a centre of learned activities once more. They have to become an attractive place for all ages. To offer the right environment, the freedom of social interaction in a place to discover not only the latest ideas and fashion, but also a place where you have access to the world and beyond; to research the past and discover your identity; and to be comfortable in your environment whilst learning.

The York ModernLibrary is about enjoying your environment, giving a sense of excitement and discovery as you enter each new space. A feeling of belonging to a particular environment; knowing you have arrived at your destination, which encourages you to continue your chosen activity; being transparent when you need to be part of the outside environment, and being opaque when you are alone with your ever-ticking mind, discovering and building your knowledge.

A library holding its past while reaching forward to its new era.

James Mills


This scheme for a modern library in York demonstrates an enthusiasm for new information technology. The student has conscienciously researched the future of the library with its increased use of electronic information, and has enjoyed presenting his design ideas through good spatial imagery using CAD.

This is an exciting design for a resource library for an under exploited waterfront location in York. The dramatic scale emphasises the curve in the River Foss and establishes a thoroughly modern concept for a city regeneration scheme. The design explores successfully an appropriate relationship between smaller more private spaces and the grand scale of an internal street which itself links building function with the town.

The student has developed his project through a good range of hand made models as well as extending the scope of Computer Aided Architectural Design. As a third year student he has indicated a sense of the importance of form and massing.

2001
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