This thesis explores the increased inhabitation of the virtual realm and its relation to the physical. Architecturally this exploration is manifested through the adaptation of the existing Killam Research Library of Dalhousie University, a brutalist building completed in 1972.
The Internet, perceived as an immaterial cloud, is made up of a very physical infrastructure maintained and controlled by private corporations hidden in data centres and connected by undersea cables. To reinstate the inherent physicality of knowledge, and re establish the importance of public awareness surrounding its control, an information tower is injected into the center of the existing library, adjacent to its atrium. This tower contains and manages all physical knowledge regardless of its format, expanding and contracting its height accordingly. Servers holding the university’s digital collections are maintained for access worldwide, while books are stored and accessed through an automated organization system, allowing users to summon printed knowledge in a myriad of organizations based on its metadata. The tower’s dark mirrored facade secures the information while allowing moments of literal self reflection while users await their content, seeing themselves in relation to their surroundings prior to knowledge consumption and subsequent adaptation.
With the physical content consolidated into the Information Core, the existing floor space is free for social interaction and study. Solid hanging precast panels are deconstructed to allow the exterior context to infiltrate and identify collaborative and isolated zones of study. A public procession is formed up through the ring, displaying the various spaces available to the users within and increasing the opportunity for chance interaction. As users pass by the Information Core's access panels, they see the most recent tailored racks of information that have been summoned from within the core. The library's physical layout is not restricted by an organizational system but instead users see organizations and information objects currently being summoned and used by other users.
The “Conveyor Plane” extends out of the library’s second level terminating at the shared edge between the university campus and the city of Halifax, focusing on the application of knowledge through people. With the same formal language of an airport terminal, “The Conveyor”, a transitory study zone, exchanges information through people’s movement, between the institution, the adjacent city, and the greater globalized world, by means of a metro hub / exhibition space located at its tip. From this point users can observe work being carried out inside the various faculty islands located within the campus while awaiting connection to the cities transportation networks and international airport.
The full thesis project can be viewed and downloaded here