New building meshes old with new
Construction is well underway on a building that will house the new Cairo University Central Library.
Dr Aly Raafat from Inter-Consult, the architect who designed the building, told The Daily Star Egypt “The most important thing in building the new structure was to combine aspects of a digital library with a traditional one.
The new building, covering an area of 9,500 square meters, is an effort to keep up with the emerging revolution in technology and telecommunications. This has been the main driving force behind it. “For the first time in Egypt and the Middle East, this will be a completely digital library. Having a digital library means you need less space, Raafat said.
The entire reference system will be computerized and students can access all the information via a digitalized system. Networks will be set up between colleges, student hostels and other universities.
“There must be cooperation between university libraries and it would be better if they agree on a single reference system, Raafat said.
As for the design, Raafat said it was along classical lines to conform with the style of the rest of the university with a hint of Pharoanic motifs. “There will be a symbolic reference to the Pharoanic style but the main architectural style is classical to suit the rest of the university, he said.
He added “It is imperative that the structure is in harmony with its surroundings. Also important is that vehicles are kept far from the library. Thus vehicles will have a ring road around the structure which reaches designated parking lots and all the area in between will be for pedestrians.
The library contains an inner atrium, lighted from openings around a central cupola, which opens onto reading cubicles. The outer layer of the building consists of four tinted glass plates.
Raafat said the aim of the library was to facilitate exchange of information. He said: “Now you can send and receive research and information from different places and even to students’ homes.
However, it’s not all hi-tech. the library will also boast traditional movable stacks for your run of the mill printed books and manuscripts.
One unique highlight of the new project is that it will be equipped for Braille users. The construction is slated for completion in 2007.