Whenever mundane reality clogs my thoughts, invades the realm of the senses, shrinks me and shakes the tranquility of my mind, I gear up to travel to new places if time and situation permit or else I just open an unread book. Both of them comfortably take me afar from the present. And then, I find myself all charged up again like a phoenix. Books and travel, two of my favorite companions in life merge into one whenever I visit a library – the storehouse of thousands of years of knowledge.
The EPFL library in Lausanne, Switzerland
As the year 2016 is coming to an end, let me share with you one of my precious treasures; my experience of visiting the library of EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Lausanne. It is also known as the Rolex learning center, after the Swiss watch-making company which was one of its prime sponsors. The architecture of the EPFL library is unique and is designed by the winners of the 2010 Pritzker Prize, which is considered the Nobel prize in architecture.
EPFL library from outside
Inside the EPFL library
When I stepped inside the library, clad in gray carpet, enveloped in glass and white metals, I saw waves in all directions without any barriers. Everything was a flow. It is one big room of 10,000 square meters with minimal enclosures.Everything was a flow. It is one big room of 10,000 square meters with minimal enclosures. Click To Tweet
New approach to the concept of a library
I wanted to peep inside the minds of the designer duo of SANAA – the architectural firm in Tokyo. They have completely revolutionized the concept of a library. Learning is not confined to a room or to a wooden chair and table; it can take place anywhere, anytime. The Rolex learning center exactly reflects this philosophy.Learning is not confined to a room or to a wooden chair and table; it can take place anywhere, anytime. Click To Tweet
The Rolex learning Center
Students can choose to study or discuss inside the cabin like rooms or can simply choose a bean bag overlooking the Alps. It gives room for study and encourages real life interaction, thus counterbalancing the digital world. This architecture has brought a completely new approach to the concept of a library.
Restaurant inside the library
I was surprised to see a cafe and even a restaurant inside the library.
Outside view from inside the EPFL Library
It also offers a beautiful view of the Alps from inside the library, unlike traditional libraries which offer closed rooms or spaces to nurture knowledge. The vibrant EPFL library has quickly become the cultural hub of the university campus.
While standing inside this library I felt sea waves, hills, valleys, sky, natural, artificial, all are organized here in a wondrous way!While standing inside this library I felt sea waves, hills, valleys, sky, natural, artificial, all are organized here in a wondrous way! Click To Tweet
When I had seen the world famous traditional libraries like the library of Princeton university, Black Diamond – the Danish library and the beautiful Strahov library in Prague, I loved them. When I saw this library in EPFL, I was intrigued. I realized that nowadays knowledge is not only confined in books, but also in our laptops, iPad and iPhones and in many other forms. Therefore, modern day libraries should approach the whole concept afresh like the Rolex learning center in Switzerland.
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After seeing this library I once again understood the power of imagination. I salute those two designers who gifted us this library which is a beautiful marvel of architecture that reinterprets the library space in a digital age.
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