Library spaces we love: Musashino Art University Museum & Library

Today’s post comes from ILN Program Coordinator, Kate Byrne

Photo: 'MAU M&L' CC by Atsushi Hasegawa

Photo: ‘MAU M&L’ CC by Atsushi Hasegawa

Musashino Art University Museum & Library

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Musashina Art University Museum & Library after coming across stories about the library online.

Why do you like this library and what are some of your favourite features? 

Built by the architect Sou Fujimoto in 2010, this stunning and unusual space caught my eye because of the unusual feature of hundreds of empty bookshelves. Almost every library here is Australia is bursting at the seams with so many books that it was startling to see so much open space. When I dug a little deeper, I found out that this is actually a library built from bookcases.

Photo: 'IMG_0049' CC by yoxito

Photo: ‘IMG_0049’ CC by yoxito

The concept behind the library was to try to bring together the ‘real things’ in a library with the growing world of information that is only available online. As he said in the below video,“the architecture is like a forest, and in the forest, many many informations [sic] is surrounding you…”

Sou Fujimoto, on designing a library on the age of information from ArchDaily on Vimeo.

I just love this idea and I love the purity of this attempt to bring together two increasingly divergent paths in librarianship: the physical and digital, in this symbolic way.

Photo: 'IMG_0053' CC by yoxito

Photo: ‘IMG_0053’ CC by yoxito

My favourite features have to be the sense of space and symbolism but I also love the way this library is like a cocoon. In the middle of the library, you are wrapped in layers and layers of shelves, which for me seems like it would be incredibly peaceful. Check out this great post for more information on the architecture.

Photo: 'IMG_0038' CC by yoxito

Photo: ‘IMG_0038’ CC by yoxito

If you could ask the designers of this space any question, what would it be? 

I would love to ask Sou Fujimoto what he thinks of the space nearly 4 years later. How does it hold up? Has he learnt more about how bring together digital and physical spaces? And I’d love to ask the librarians who work there what it is like? Does the space work functionally? Is there anything they would change if they could?

I’m off to Japan in April and I will definitely be stopping by whilst I’m in Tokyo to see this in real life. Hopefully I can ask some questions whilst I’m there…

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