Photography: Andre J. Fanthome & Mridu Sahai;courtesy Archohm
Ensconced in the lap of a lush green valley in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, is a massive library with concrete intersecting columns that stands tall, reflecting the nature of its function and physically manifesting the philosophy of the biotechnology campus of Shoolini University…
Built on an area of 2,476.88 sq. m., the four-floor Yognanda library is an “intense interconnected volume of voids and solids, connecting the entire building as a large functional plate”, explain the architects at Studio Archohm, who've spent four years on the institutional project.
The inner face of the concrete bears the load of the library’s structure and the books stored within, while the intersecting columns support the walls - an interpretation of the most fundamental element of biotechnology and a reflection of the university’s logo (a DNA structure).
The clear facade is complimented by recessed glass, staggered from ground upwards, creating an unhampered central pool of light that ensures ample daylight pouring in; the ambience peaceful and serene for students, who can spend time studying, whilst enjoying the beautiful landscape outside.
Traditional elements of the facade are carried indoors in the form of brick walls and pillars, where principal architect Sourabh Gupta and his team have resorted to a more modern approach with wooden flooring and matt-finish wooden tables in deep hues matched with chairs and other furniture in contemporary styles. The books are lined on the periphery, with a row of reading bayside forming an inner ring.
In the centre, a large courtyard pours uniform indirect light into the building, connecting playfully in voids and volumes. The terrace is a lush green extension of the courtyard and open to library users, who want to read on refreshing grass while bathing in the sun. The greenery of the courtyard keeps the latent temperatures of the structure in check and, at the same time, “brings in a level of drama as one ascends through large steps”.
Seating on steps, lighting from top onto the books and strong directional volume add to the charm of the library, whose USP is its spacial structure and the exclusivity of its elevation.