[DWJ] Re: architects was Sacking the maids...

Farah Mendlesohn farah.sf at gmail.com
Fri May 18 09:08:03 EDT 2007

Surely the "best" example is the French national library in Paris.

The librarians' offices are in the basement.
The books are in glass towers each designed to look like an open book.

The librarians went on strike over the lack of daylight.
They have had to fit the towers with curtains to protect the books.

In constrast, the British Library at Kings Cross St. Pancras is becoming one
of the best loved major libraries in the western world, against all
expectation. Most of the complaints are about the lighting in the cafe
bars--it never occured to the architects that people would actually come to
the library to *write* in the coffee bars.


On 17/05/07, Jon Noble <jon_p_noble at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Architects for schools I'm sure went into the profession only to get
> revenge against teachers and/or school students. I did know one former
> example who got so depressed at lying to teachers about how well their new
> buildings would work, and what they would be getting that he resigned and
> became a priest. I've taught in school libraries which were built on four
> levels, in which one librarian was expected to supervise 100 or more
> students, the most impossible to view rooms had doors leading into the
> senior students common room, just to make security easy. Eventually one
> architecture critic burnt it down. We did have some say in the rebuilding
> but we were stuck with the same external shell. My current library is very
> easy to supervise being on one level, however about 80% of its volume is
> above the level of the windows so in summer it gets very hot. There is a
> skylite in the roof designed for ventilation, but if opened it can't be shut
> properly and rain gets in. It has managed
> to survive two attempts to burn the school down but it is only about 2
> metres above sea level so global warming may get it, it already has drainage
> problems because of this.
> Jon
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Minnow <minnow at belfry.org.uk>
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion <dwj at suberic.net>
> Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 5:07:23 AM
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] Sacking the maids...
> Dorian wrote:
> >You should hear my mother on the subject of the building in which she
> works
> >(she's a university librarian working in a shiny newly built
> library).  They
> >may have made it strong enough to hold the books, but they made whole
> walls
> >of windows which can't be opened, completely ignoring (a) the way lots of
> >light ain't so good for books, and (b) all those windows make the place
> like
> >a greenhouse, and all that heat ain't so good for the books, the people,
> or
> >the computers.  (And the air-conditioning doesn't work.)
> This is one of those architectural fashions, the glass-box school.  It's
> lousy for offices too, and though they keep on wittering about new sorts
> of
> glass that don't fry the poeple working inside boxes made of them
> unfortunately they don't seem to use them.
> >Apparently another university library sent a delegation to see this shiny
> >new library building, with a view to hiring the same architect.  Over the
> >protests of the management-types, the librarians showed them all around
> >pointing out each and every flaw in the design.
> Good for them!
> >As for missing obvious mistakes...my secondary school had the radiators
> in
> >the ceilings.  The architect, and everyone else involved, appeared to
> have
> >completely missed the bit about heat rising.  (And I wouldn't be
> surprised
> >to learn that that was a contributing factor to the leaky roofs.)
> "Ceiling heating" was fashionable for a while, and a lot of bald men
> living
> in council flats suffered from a rather nasty variation of sunburn and had
> to wear hats indoors at all times.
> Reading University library at Whiteknights Park was originally built with
> a
> flat, water-permeable roof...
> Minnow
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One day I want time to be bored.

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