An architectural canopy made fo 2.000 used plastic ice cream buckets wraps the Microlibrary Bima in Indonesia. Multi-awarded rising architecture practice SHAU completed the first prototype of a series of Microlibraries in different locations throughout Indonesia and the Global South. Each microlibrary will be uniquely designed to fit programmatic demands of each site and community.
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With high illiteracy rate in Indonesia and lack of reading facilities, SHAU aimed to rekindle interest in books by offering a designed place for reading paired with multiple community activities. “The role of beautiful design can make libraries attractive again. Instead of positioning libraries only in city centers, why not bringing libraries closer to homes?” Say at SHAU to Archipanic.
Microlibrary Bima is located in a small square at the center of a middle and lower-income community neighborhood in Bandung. The building is constructed via a simple steel structure made from I-beams and concrete slabs for floor and roof. A former stage was reworked in concrete and sheltered by the building. Previously missing, full-length stairs were added.
Due to the tropical climate, SHAU aimed to create a pleasant indoor climate without the use of air conditioning. “It was is important to use available façade materials in the neighborhood that were cost efficient. We used 2.000 plastic ice cream buckets as a stable solution when cutting the bottom open for cross ventilation. They not only shade the interior, but also scatter direct sunlight and act as natural light bulbs.”
While studying design options of how to arrange the, SHAU team realized that they could be interpreted as zeros (opened) and ones (closed), thus giving them the possibility to embed a message in the façade in the form of a binary code. Bandung mayor suggested “buku adalah jendela dunia”, which means ‘books are the windows to the world’. The buckets were then placed in between vertical steel ribs spanning from floor to roof and are inclined towards the outside to repel rainwater. For more harsh tropical rainstorms translucent sliding doors in the inside can be closed temporarily.
The Microlibrary adds identity and is a source of pride for all the people in the neighborhood. The activities and teaching are currently supported and organized by Dompet Dhuafa (Pocket for the Poor) and the Indonesian Diaspora Foundation. However, the ultimate goal is to enable the local people to organize the content and maintenance independently. A local elementary school has started to visit the microlibrary 2 times per week as a part of their curriculum.
All photos by Sanrok Studio/SHAU.