Reading, a posture where one learns, grows, and engages with others’ ideas, is so often deemed as simply an academic subject or a vocational obligation. Printed material struggles to survive amidst the tides of the digital age, even in our schools. It was in the midst of this, an impassioned teacher envisioned an oasis for reading in the heart of their elementary school, which happens to be the Library. Challenged with a small donated budget, we set out to design a space that would create an excitement in the students to not only visit the library, but to actually enjoy spending a few minutes escaping routine for an impromptu adventure through various printed genres in hopes that this seed of enjoyment would take root for a lifetime.
It is in this relationship between the technological advancements we value and the fundamentals of reading and literature that our inspiration to accommodate the old through the new began to grow and develop into a topiary of digitally fabricated bookshelves and furniture. In this grove, the tradition is the transference of knowledge through printed literature all the while celebrating both technology and science through the use of digital and traditional fabrication methods. Constructed of birch plywood, the trees’ shelves, furniture, and canopy speak historically of the use of birch in book binding and preservation.
The space and objects themselves are designed and built to a child’s perspective and scale, surrounding them in books and enveloping them in a naturally lit canopy, making dramatic use of an existing skylight.