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Library of Alignment & Illumination and the Archive of Public Voices

Part 1 Project 2012
Li Qun Tang
Oxford Brookes University | UK
The scheme is a reaction to the public demonstrations of Rome, caused by the communication disconnect between the Italian government and its people.

Nestled at the foot of Capitoline Hill, Rome, next to a police barracks and close to several government buildings, the project is envisioned as a headquarters for the democratic voices of the people of Rome: augmenting the patrons’ opinions with discussion, facts and sense of gravity; so that their opinions carry weight and enable coherent discussions and debates.
Architecture as condenser of public opinion.

Using elements of sunlight and shadow to manipulate the patron’s perception of time, the scheme actively engages in augmenting the rituals of reading, debating, and writing, that the local Roman populace perform on their journey toward the formation of refined opinions.

The scheme is a library and an archive sitting within an existing public park and ruins. Spatial sequences weave in and out of the park, creating transitional spaces that form symbiotic relationships with it. Where the journey encounters a ruin, it converses with them, speaking of ideas of time.

Sunlight and shadow reinforce different sensations of time along the patron’s journey: teasing out time through the elimination of time’s visual cues, or compressing the sensation of time by introducing quick-moving shadows.

Guided through a library, the patron assimilates/reinforces opinions through reading, then moves toward a public speaking podium, then a cafeteria – both serving to pit ideas against others through discussion and argument – a throwback to the ancient Roman typology of the Forum. The patron, having tested and refined his/her opinion, enters the transcription chamber, where they are penned into physical reality.

Once a year, the alignment of the sun coincides with the precise alignment of the architectural elements and contoured geometry of the scheme. At this point, time is made to ‘pause’ while the Keeper of the Voices performs the ritual of reading aloud and displaying these accumulated voices of democracy.

Architecture serves in guiding, condensing these experiences through the element of time through sunlight and shadow, almost acting as a machine for generating a constantly reiterated and updated manual for democracy.

Li Qun Tang


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