A library turns into an attraction
Turning libraries into centres of social life has become one of the most hotly debated themes on international cultural forums. The idea is to abandon the traditional concept of the library as a “sanctuary” of knowledge, an almost solemn place in which to perform a ritual of study, and instead see the library as a public space in which to meet, chat, read and attend public debates. The “social space” library is intended to play an active role in daily life as a friendly, almost homely place of leisure, creativity and recreation.
The Starfield Library, housed in a building of over 2,800 square metres in the heart of the Coexmall shopping centre in Seoul, South Korea is an excellent example of this new approach. The library defines itself as “a culturally sensitive space where people can meet, relax and communicate through books, or even meet that special person without reading at all!”.
Coexmall, built in the 1990s and the country’s largest underground shopping centre, experienced periods of boom and decline until its recent renovation. Since then, the library has become its main attraction. Inaugurated on 31 May 2017, it is proving a magnet for the public, and even dramatically boosting affluence to the mall.
A showcase for innovative design, the two-storey building is characterised by three fascinating, gigantic shelving structures, some 13 metres high, with a capacity of over 50,000 books, complemented by a vast collection of over 600 Korean and international magazines. Digital technology plays a key role in the Korean economy, so it is no surprise that the library also offers access to e-books too. All titles are registered in an advanced archiving system.
What fascinates visitors even more than the magnificent structures and vast range of titles, however, is the delightful nature of the environment as a whole, with its warm and welcoming floor in Marca Corona’s Prestige series porcelain tile. These natural essence, wood-effect tiles, in formats similar to real wood floor boards, give the library an informal elegance and capture the attention of visitors as soon as they enter while also ensuring the high level of practicality and wear resistance that the application demands. Thanks to the warmth that emanates from the floor with its real-wood look, and despite the size of the interior spaces, the library has a cosy, relaxed and sincere feel throughout that leaves assiduous readers and curious visitors alike feeling completely at ease.
A number of information desks help users to navigate through the shelves and find the books they need. While most titles are obviously in Korean, the library also boasts a large number of foreign language books and the selection of quality titles is growing continuously through direct purchases and private donations too, demonstrating just how the library is winning the affection of the people of Seoul. On top of this, a packed programme of meetings with authors, debates and workshops helps to attract visitors for the odd hour or for a whole day.
The seating is well worth noting too: around two hundred comfortable sofas, designer benches and stools, chatting and desk chairs have been carefully selected to add high-design content to the environment. Finally, a special mention must go to the lighting. This is partly natural and partly provided by warm-light table lamps of the kind traditionally found in libraries and studies, as if to remind us that the past is always the ideal source of inspiration for the future.
Marca Corona, Prestige
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA, ULA, UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): <150 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): R ≥ 45 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant