In June 2013 CDC was appointed to by the Stephen Perse Foundation to consider the relocation and refurbishment of the library within its Senior School, Cambridge.
The Foundation posed a challenging brief, suggesting that the library should be re-imagined as a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, an eclectic space for making connections and exploring ideas rather than a simple repository of books. This space would be appointed with a curator, and as such the space should function in a flexible way to allow for the display of objects, exhibitions, and interactive technologies as well as promote the appropriation of this space by the students.
Sitting within the original 19th Century building on the school site, the design needed to respect the surviving historic elements of the building’s interior whilst providing an exciting intervention.
CDC explored several design options with the Foundation, each focussing on how the space could be used and expressed. These took the form of 3 dimensional computer models, presented at one meeting as an ‘augmented reality’ model visible using tablets. In this way, the school could swiftly understand the opportunities of each option before settling on one to develop further.
The preferred design proposes a complex form of shelves, cabinets, surfaces and screens that knit around the structure of the existing building. This is intended to project out into corridors, and fragment into other spaces around the school: in this way, the Cabinet of Curiosities is less a singular space, more a thread that runs throughout the school.