I am always wary of stepping too far away from ceramic tiles and natural stone on Tile Addict. However, today, I am making a exception, because I really love this project. And I am not alone, as the Microlibrary Bima: 2000 Ice Cream Bucket Project from Sumur Bandung, Indonesia, was a Jury and Popular Choice Winner in the Architizer A+ Awards 2017. Journalists often brag, usually with little justification, of having a ‘scoop’. Today’s Tile Addict, if you’ll excuse the pun, is a ‘soft scoop!’
Face with the high illiteracy rate in Indonesia, and a lack of reading facilities, the award-winning SHAU architecture practice, set off on a mission to rekindle interest in books by offering a creative space for reading, paired with multiple community activities.
Inspired by Indonesia’s 100 Microlibraries programme the mayor of Bandung, Ridwan Kamil, provided a site that now houses Microlibrary Bima; the first completed prototype in a series of microlibraries in different locations across Indonesia; each uniquely designed to fit the demands of the individual site and community.
Microlibrary Bima is located at Taman Bima; a diverse middle and lower-income community. The building is situated in a small square with a pre-existing stage that was already used for gatherings, events and sports activities. Aiming to add rather than take away, SHAU decided to enhance the open stage by shading it, making it rain protected and cover it in the form of a floating library box.
The building has a simple structure of steel I-beams and concrete slabs for floor and roof. The stage was reworked in concrete and full-length stairs were added. As the building is located in a tropical climate, the aim is to create a pleasant indoor climate without the use of air conditioning. Therefore, it is important to use façade materials that were cost-efficient, could shade the interior, let daylight pass and enable enough cross ventilation. Initially, the architects found several small vendors selling used, white and translucent jerry cans, but these were not available in the required quantities. Instead, the team found used plastic ice cream buckets that were being sold in bulk. This turned out to be more stable when cutting the bottom open for cross ventilation.
While studying design options of how to arrange 2000 ice cream buckets, SHAU realized that they could be interpreted as zeros (opened) and ones (closed), thus giving them the possibility to embed a message in the façade in the form of a binary code. SHAU asked the Mayor to supply the message. He came up with “buku adalah jendela dunia”, which translates as ‘books are the windows to the world.’ The message can be read starting from the top left (facing the front) and spirals down around the perimeter repeatedly. Not only does the facade give additional meaning to the building but the buckets also generate a pleasant indoor light ambiance since they scatter direct sunlight and act as natural light bulbs.
The buckets were then placed in between vertical steel ribs spanning from floor to roof and are inclined towards the outside to repel rainwater. For more harsh tropical rainstorms, translucent sliding doors in the inside can be closed temporarily. Mounting 2000 buckets, making the fixture and punching out bottoms of more than half of them is time consuming. However, the local craftsmen made their own punch out/cutting tools to be faster while also maintaining sharp and clean edges.
The finished 160 sq. metre Microlibrary, constructed for just €40,000, is a low-tech triumph, adding identity and providing a source of pride for the neighbourhood. The ultimate goal is to enable the local people to organize the content and maintenance independently and, already, a local elementary school has started to visit the microlibrary twice a week as a part of their curriculum.
Photography: Sanrok Studio
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, September 2017.