Maya Somaiya Library

Winner of Brick Award 2020 – Category: Building outside the box

On initial inspection, the narrow plot of land appeared particularly uninspiring – located as it is between the existing buildings of the Shri Sharda English Medium School, an electrical substation, and neighbouring farmland. Which only makes the artistic library, designed for the children by architect Sameep Padora and his team, even more striking.

The new reading pavilion enhances the landscape with its architecture and raises it up a level. Because the wave-shaped roof is accessible – although it is constructed from a mere three layers of 32 mm deep bricks. The effect of compressive stress between the 105,000 locally-produced bricks means that the delicate vaulted roof can be used as a playground by local children.

International engineering knowledge

Sameep Padora and his team were fascinated by the resource efficiency of the Catalan vault, which dates back to the 16th century, Rafael Guastavino’s Tile Arch System, and the shell structures of Uruguayan architect Eladio Dieste.

Beneath the digitally-designed – but very natural – roof is a single room, 44 m in length, with rectangular glass walls that allow in plenty of natural light. It is an ideal place to learn and read: ‘Given the limited learning resources available in the local area, we wanted the space itself to be inspirational and act as a magnet, to draw in pupils and other residents from nearby villages’, explains Padora.

The library pavilion is accessible from several sides and, internally, the space and seating can be configured in many variations to suit individual or group learning. The curved ceiling, in warm earth tones, reaches protectively over the space, unbroken by lamps or other items. The architects integrated lighting into the furniture, thereby creating a unique, continuous curve.

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