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Extension of the public library: An operation that transform the existing monument into a new democratic reality

Part 2 Project 2003
Antonio Polidura
Ami Skimming
Central University, Santiago Santiago Chile
Extension of the public library: An operation that transform the existing monument into a new democratic reality.

To what extent can cultural institutions such as museums exist in isolation from the context of their cities? Are they islands autonomous and independent? Or are they an integral part of the urban fabric-both physically and culturally.
( Norman Foster for the presentation of the Museo del Prado extention project. Competition. 1996)

The National Library of Chile could be considered as an island.
It has functioned for almost a century in the institutional building, located in one of the most important avenues in Santiago (Alameda Avenue) at the core of the city.
During this time, it has suffered many interventions to improve its functioning, but has remained disconnected, away from the movement of the sidewalks. This is, in part, due to its enormous historical and architectonic importance (declared national monument) that made it untouchable.
The real need of extension, is an opportunity to change this character and connect it to the city and to the people.

Thus the project proposes to:

increase the square meters capacity in 1/5 (about 5000 m2)
connect the Santa Lucia Hill (separated for a street and an underlevel way) and the Library
change the main access to a public space with a most permeable facade
connect the subway station with the library programmes
incorporate new programmes
connect the main level (Pianno Nobile one storey up from street level) with the street level

All this without including a new object, keeping the monument and the hill as the most important things. Visually.

Antonio Polidura
Ami Skimming

Architecture might be understood as the art of transforming requirements into qualities.

Taking that into account, a sheer problem, such as the extension of a library, can acquire the dimension of metropolitan value as proposed in Jose Antonio´s project.

His project is very simple and pure and it solves, with just one architectonic gesture, the task of reorganising a complex urban knot, for the building as well as for the city. It creates a link between the National Library and the Santa Lucia Hill ( national patrimony), taking away from them the weight of one of most important arteries in the city, generating a new access and a new programme.
From being a monumental and inaccessible building, the library will turn into a place open to the city, with public activities and a renewed storage capacity.


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