Ricardo Mülder Public Library
People:Floris SMITH: Architect
Patrick McINERNEY: Project Architect
MEYER PIENAAR AND PARTNERS: Architect
26°08'22.39" S 28°09'08.99" E
The library resulted from the winning of a limited competition. Although the plan seems to derive from rigid, even forced geometries, it is the response to the topography which provides the interior with a spatial dynamic.
The materials - off-shutter concrete and brick - are well chosen and neatly detailed. They continue through to the inside where they are complemented by natural slate and wood in the public areas, as well as the pale mauve of the carpets and puce of the wall. Savings were effected by the architects on the interior decoration, furniture and apparatus, which has allowed for the acquisition of contemporary art-works, an asset which enhances and reciprocally is enhanced by the architecture.
The library functions well having the air of stillness and serenity required of such a place, even though the interlinking of spaces through the aisles might suggest otherwise. Air-conditioning was added but the design seems to have addressed the difficult compromise of natural lighting and of thermal load, through the placing and sizes of windows.
Aspects which jar are the superfluous brick flying buttresses (a mere architectural accoutrement) and a domestic back door leading from the auditorium, exiting by a stair of forced perspective onto the main pedestrian mall.
The building provides for a fine piece of civic architecture which ennobles the scale of the public realm. It also seems well-used, being full of young adults even in the middle of a weekday.
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
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