The Benaki Museum Library project. Detailed study-and implementation 1995-1996. 

Based on initial provisions by the restoration of the Benaki Listed Neoclassic building Complex, since c. 1989, regarding the excavation (with appropriate waterproofing) of an additional level below the existing contour of the listed building (essentially within the existing foundations)  the detailed interior project for the design of a two-storey library was commissioned in 1995. The top storey, at approximate the same level with the basement of the neo-classical building that was to be reserved for use by the Museum’s offices, and with the director’s office in immediate proximity, was to serve as a designed reception space, while the lower level would be utilized for storage of books, with movable racks in order to  best utilize the limited space available.

Technical complexity aside as the space was to be constrained by  the foundations but also the aesthetic and practical considerations imposed by the masonry listed building, the design was in tune with the classical surroundings, at least for the top level that also received guests. For compatibility with the rest of the project, it was decided that lighter in construction, abstracted wall-mounted book-cases would be combined with exceptional classically designed  free-standing bookcases in order to stress the classical layout of the space, beneath the main classical exhibition gallery. Nine such  free-standing bookcases were included. A prototype had been built earlier by the architect for confirmation and control of the details.

Multiple alternative plans of the classical reading-administration space of the library, had been considered. A very useful additional space on the side contained book stacks, but also an office and a separate entrance with stairway. . A detailed lighting study was also  executed with the final proposal  compatible  with a wide  range of potential furniture arrangements within the space. The pristine, abstracted functional 2nd basement level containing the movable racks with wall covering from warm-coloured Brazilian ‘capao-bonito’ granite, in contrast with stainless steel accessories, was accessible for fire-safety purposes by two independent stairways with similar aesthetic treatment.

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