This case study is part of the essay Building for the blind, featured in AR April 2020 on Darkness. Click here to read the full article
This intervention into the old Biblioteca de México José Vasconcelos was intended to replace an existing library for the blind from 1989 as part of the government programme Ciudad de los Libros. The old room was cramped, receiving many more visitors than its insufficient space could provide for. The architects requested that the new rooms be moved to the north facade of the library, placing it closer to an entrance patio which would later become an aromatic garden, and improving the natural lighting in the space.
Light is more important than one might expect in a library for the blind. Most visitors have only partial impairment and determine space through contrast between light and shadow, and many will visit with sighted children, who were not accounted for in the design for the library that predated Rocha and Carrillo’s renovation. In the new library, a play area and toy library host the children on low tables, the cabins that hold the sound booths floating at first floor level over an open ground floor plan.
In the old library, these cabins were unused due to their small size and unpleasant odour, but the new booths are fitted with silent extraction, audio equipment that places the voice of the readers at an ideal volume and tone, and insulation that contains the sound within the cabin. Ridges along the new bookshelves support a more interactive surface than a smooth edifice would, and braille text quoting verses by significant writers and poets along the halls was placed along handrails and tables, becoming another component of the textures that can be found around the room.
library rocha carillo architectural review
This case study is part of a longer essay called Building for the blind – click here to read the full piece