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STUDIO 5 - The Library

Civic Expression aims to investigate the potential of the public library’ to raise the identity, economics and architecture of our cities to new heights. As the library continues its evolution through contemporary challenges of altering information sources, societal inequality, and democratic unease, students in Studio 5 are working to assess the role of the library in shaping a community’s identity. To understand how the architecture of public life can behave as a communicative, tactile and expressive act.


In recent years, London’s libraries have seen a dramatic drop in usage, as their place in the city dissolves into the anonymous master plans of large scale developments. In turn, they have absorbed new programmes, be it by intention - adapting to a world of new technologies and changing social patterns - or by necessity - squeezed by a decade of government austerity and local authority cuts. Amongst this challenging context of changing media, fake news and altered social landscapes, Studio 5 has explored to find new relevance in the library, questioning what dynamic functional, communicative and expressive identities the new library may embrace. 

To explore this, students have designed urban proposals based in Lambeth, Vauxhall, through exciting tectonic, spatial and programmatic experiments. The projects are situated in an area that has undergone a rapid transformation, pulled by the forces of economics, social changing and international politics. As an area with no obvious public focus, the task of Studio 5 has been to develop civic compositions that address these deep tensions; finding character, identity and common ground in undefined spaces and addressing the conflicts between existing communities and international investment. Thus, providing an opportunity to investigate heightened modes of experience, atmosphere, leisure and spectacle as a means to actively involve citizens in civic space.


To aid in this process, students engaged in Making Workshops to develop skills in different techniques used to communicate ideas. Using processes of casting, dividing, adding, subtracting, breaking and assembling to explore the boundary of their interventions as a material, tactile and expressive device.

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