Integrated Metro Library
The pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of modern urban life. Public transit usage has been no excep- tion. Ridership has fallen all over the world, as commuters work from home and seniors avoid crowded spaces. For many, the experience of taking public transit during the pan- demic has been an anxiety ridden one, while others have sought to avoid it entirely, opting instead to drive, walk or cycle. To restore confidence in public transit, municipalities need to adapt to the future, addressing the changing needs of riders with bold design solutions. Above all, metropolitan transit systems must create new, positive associations to reinvigorate the rider experience in the post-pandemic era.
The Integrated Metro Library (IML) system is a public library fully integrated into the experience of taking the metro. IML stations will be set up at transit hubs throughout the network, offering riders reading material to accompany them for the duration of their journey. Designated deposit boxes established at all metro exits will allow for the quick and simple redistribution of books throughout the IML system. The IML will totally transform the metro experience, turning the underground into a space of cultural exchange and community. Each station will be fully equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers and designed to facilitate the open circulation of people, to minimize crowding. Rare books from municipal library archives and art books celebrating the work of local artists will be displayed behind glass, allowing passersby to slow down and take the time to appreciate book arts practices at their leisure. The libraries themselves will feature an eclectic selection of reading mate- rial, showcasing local writers as much as possible. Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, urbanism, poetry, graphic novels, children's books--the IML will offer something for everyone.
In a world where public transit usage is less and less tied to the 9 to 5 commuter grind, subway systems have the potential to grow as spaces for leisure as much as expedi- ency. The IML will create a positive and novel association with the metro for riders scared off by the pandemic, inspir- ing those who have avoided taking transit to come try it out, and enlivening the experience for those who never left. Besides the many proven benefits of promoting reading and literacy, the shared experience of perusing the books on offer and reading them on the train will bring people together. After all, reading is an activity anyone can enjoy, whether young or old. Encouraging riders to take off their headphones and read can help to foster a more communal and sociable way of taking transit, fostering connections where once silence reigned. Meanwhile, the IML can prove invaluable exposure for local writers and artists, promoting local culture to the city at large.
(Competitor's text excerpt)
Ironically, but perfectly realistically, this project puts books into "circulation". The conjunction of two programs, transportation and reading, seems simple on the surface. But the jury retained this invitation as a means to share books. This is not a simple newspaper stand, it is a mini public library and therefore a real public place: what some libraries sometimes struggle to embody, by imposing themselves as inaccessible places rather than open to all. By literally exposing certain books, the Integrated Metro Library would also contribute to the stimulation of the curiosity of certain passengers by slowing down the flow while increasing the possibility of meetings and exchanges. The idea of connecting people through books enhances the public transportation experience. It forces people to look away from their screens, slow down and browse the library. While the proposed disinfectant dispensers at the exit seem out of place, or even unnecessary, the jury prefers to see this integration of the library as a potential solution to the waiting problem. The community dimension recharacterizes the subway corridor as a public space for sharing.
(From jury report)