All three of my concepts are different but have one common theme – the idea of the “engawa”. The“engawa” is traditionally the thin wooden strip of floor between the interior of the house and the exterior. It is covered by a roof overhang and raised slightly off the ground level so that it functions as a step and a long bench. It is important in Japanese architecture because it defines the edge of a space and it a transition point between the interior and the exterior. It can be interpreted as just that – the traditional wooden “porch”- or as more of an implied idea of enclosing space without actual walls.
The three different concepts address the engawa idea in two main ways. A series of rooftop gardens allow for an outdoor space, which can be used as a refuge from the urban monotony that exists on the street level. A difference in the way that the main program areas are aligned horizontally allows a certain level of interaction vertically, especially through an enclosed atrium space that spans two or three levels of the building.
The other way that these concepts address the “engawa” is through the use of cantilevered overhangs.Main spaces are located on the upper floors and spread out over the open space below. The concepts all are set back from the street to allow circulation of foot traffic through the lower level and integrate the library with the streetscape. This allows people on the street level to come into the space without fully committing to entry. The overhang defines the edge of what is public property and what is part of the library. However, being a library – an inherently public space – the distinction between public and private is significantly blurred.