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Spatial cultures of public libraries: Architecture, collective use and political agendas in Medellín’s Library-Parks

Capillé, CC; (2016) Spatial cultures of public libraries: Architecture, collective use and political agendas in Medellín’s Library-Parks. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Political and cultural agendas determine the programmes of public libraries, implying complex and often conflicting requirements in terms of their functioning. On one hand, they need to provide open and equal access to knowledge. On the other, they have functional needs that might restrict or condition the distribution and access of books, equipment and people. At the same time, social and technological changes cause this building type to change so as to include the idea of socialisation as a form of learning. This thesis investigates how space, programme and use interrelate in public libraries in order to express an intended public message and fulfil a specific social and cultural effect. Medellín’s Library-Parks are the main case studies analysed, as they function as key elements of a project that addresses social inequalities. Through spatial analysis using space syntax methods, the thesis provides a thorough description of these libraries’ spatial configuration and their spatial organisation of programme. In addition, it shows how the libraries are used through a detailed mapping of users’ co-presence, which exposes patterns that are further associated with the spatial and programmatic arrangements. Based on these three analyses, the thesis formulates types of spatial cultures in public libraries and exposes the role of space in influencing the emergence and/or constraint of particular patterns of social awareness that the traditional notion of the programme cannot capture. It is found that depending on how public libraries control public use (spatially and programmatically), they can support the emergence of informal activities or work as educational institutions only. In addition, depending on how public libraries’ educational role is manifested in space as spatial practices, they can serve as places that facilitate the exercise of institutional-bureaucratic power to normalise visitors’ behaviours, or places that stimulate public participation and negotiation. The findings emphasise how public libraries work as accessible civic environments, promoting visitors’ political and social awareness and potentially strengthening the collective engagement of the surrounding communities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Spatial cultures of public libraries: Architecture, collective use and political agendas in Medellín’s Library-Parks
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Public libraries, Space and politics, Collective use, Medellín
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Built Environment Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534581
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