The notion of identity is often an overlooked yet critical issue when creating a new space. A good identity will connect with people, giving them a sense of pride and a feeling of belonging. In our experience understanding the real, rather than the perceived identity of a community is often the route to creating a successful place.
As mentioned in previous posts Universities across the country have been developing new types of space and new buildings to support student experience in the 21st century. Although these are often pleasant contemporary spaces there can be a degree of similarity and replication that occurs due to the types of products, materials and furniture available on the market suitable for these large public spaces amongst other factors.
In our experience, the spaces that stand out as special are those that express something about the identity of that place and the community who inhabit it. There is a myriad of ways in which this can be achieved from the design of the architectural envelope through to the furniture specification, internal artwork and even the online personality of a place.
We are often asked to write/speak about this topic, and two projects in our portfolio illustrate the point. These projects are very different yet just over a mile apart geographically. The first project is a University of Glasgow space. In this space, a huge glazed facade looks out onto the wonderful historic architecture of the UoG campus while vintage furniture borrowed from the Art Deco period reading room on campus and oak finishes throughout provide tangible links to the past. Underlining all of this are a series of graphic artworks constructed from University archive and museum materials which display a mixture of achievements, historical events, people and quirky cultural references, which could only be found in this place.
The second project is at Glasgow Caledonian University and provides a sharp contrast to UoG. Here the architecture and internal structures have been used to express the concept of a forward-thinking, ambitious, different place. The design mixes organic forms with furniture and materials that are colourful and quirky to blend the inside with the newly landscaped exterior juxtaposing the internal artwork which is abstract, sharp and geometric.
So how can we uncover the real identity of the University of Warwick and in particular the Library community?
Responses to our field interviews have shed some light on this, and we will soon be loading up a poll to prompt you to give us more information on this subject so please do keep checking back. Alternatively, if you have strong views about the identity, we should be striving towards leave a comment or tweet at us here @WarwickLibScape