After 2,000 years, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. This new library sits near the probable site of the ancient library of Alexandria, which was once the greatest center of learning in the world.¡Qué maravilla! Más sobre arquitectura árabe contemporánea en The Globalist.
Built in the fourth century BC, the original library housed the largest collection of books the world had ever seen — with over 500,000 manuscripts on papyrus full catalogued and shelved alphabetically by author. Many intellectual elites of ancient times took up residence there, and it stood for at least 300 years.
At some point over the centuries, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina vanished — leaving only mourning and speculation over its demise.
Finally, in 1988, UNESCO and the International Union of Architects launched a competition to find a design that would address the Bibliotheca's ancient roots while creating a modern space for international scholars.
Interestingly enough, the winner, charged with reviving the most important Islamic intellectual institution of the past, was Snohetta, a Norwegian architectural firm.
To accomplish this task, the architects chose an 11-story cylindrical design — echoing the hieroglyph meaning "sun" — which appears to be re-emerging from the earth.
"The building takes you into the past, but also into the future," says supervising architect Christoph Kapeller. "You can actually see it rising up, as if we have taken a snapshot of its movement."
The massive curving outer wall is covered with 4,000 granite blocks carved with an abstract composition of letters from ancient and modern languages.
The inner design also reflects the Bibliotheca's ancient origins. The main reading room has eight terraces, each accommodating a different subject section, starting from the roots of knowledge — philosophy, history, religion, geography — and ending with the latest technologies.
The designers make it clear that the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is not just paying homage to its former glory — but also reviving the timeless pursuit of knowledge.
In keeping with modern times, the new library will also house a planetarium, permanent galleries, three museums, offices and a cafeteria. The resulting space is a functional library, inviting public building and a monument to civilization.
Ni nos falta razón, ni nos sobra razón
21 de junio de 2005
La Biblioteca de Alejandría
Por Sergio a las 1:54