Buildings with Brain Power: Library Architecture in Neural Terms

BENNETT, Hannah (2014) Buildings with Brain Power: Library Architecture in Neural Terms. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 149 - Art Libraries with Science and Technology Libraries. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Buildings with Brain Power: Library Architecture in Neural Terms

The connection between neuroscience and the built environment is a fairly new interdisciplinary field and one in which both fields, in their respective pursuits, have worked to understand the relationship between design choices, human behavior, and biological processes. Taken together and applied in tandem, these two activities have potential to vastly improve the effectiveness of buildings designed with the healthcare facilities, laboratories, or elementary schools, all of which share objectives of healing and intellectual cultivation. This paper will extend the dialogue to library design, perhaps the most representationally loaded expression of “mental space.” The library has seen profound changes in its core program with contemporary expectations of the library looking for wireless “anywhere” environments, cafes, group study spaces, and some stacks. Designs aiming to meet these new requirements seek to accommodate the behavior of the person using the library – as opposed to programming for specific, more traditional behavior - in that the space is open and extensible. This is an historic shift for library design, with as many critics as advocates. To help frame the discussion of how neuroscience and library design could inform each other, I consider the “productive research environment” (a term borrowed from the social sciences) as it relates to library spaces and programming. It is not clear how these “web 2.0” advances in physical space have impacted the researcher’s process or thinking in neural terms. At the same time, neuroscientists should consider the representational aspects of architecture, as well as its functional requirements. In doing so, the dialog of neuroscience and architecture has potential to reinforce in new ways the spirit of learning and research that libraries have historically tried to embody.

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