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Plymouth Local History Library

Part 1 Project 2004
Nicola Fox
James Hurst
Plymouth University Plymouth UK
Plymouth Local History Library aspired to create a sensitive intervention on a difficult public and historically founded site.
Due to its commanding position in the centre of the Barbican, a new intervention threatened to dramatically dominate the existing context; a rich vernacular.
A haptic architecture became fundamental, a play with materials creating a contemporary twist on the original.

The library is essentially a secret box, each façade mirroring its context and translating it through the application of materials into a contemporary gesture.
The exterior starts to tell its story, inviting people in to read the book… or any book!

Nicola Fox
James Hurst


The Plymouth School supports a humane approach to Critical Regionalism and in this sense Nicola’s work articulates many of the School’s values.

Her work is grounded, in materials, the needs of occupation and in light, but it is also conceptually rich. Her integrated design project plays with the dichotomy of inside-out and of open-closed.

It is understood as a promenade in the interior up the main stair into the high gallery space that should be open to the view but is not, then moving sideways into a minor space with the major view; it is understood as an intriguing sculptural object on its site expressing its principal parts whilst remaining mysterious; and it is understood as a maker of a place in a new public square achieved by carefully controlling the building’s size and scale.

Her work is both dramatic and subtle engaging the intellect but it is also beguiling engaging our senses.

Tutor(s)

2004
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