John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
The literary temple offers free books and an experience akin to being stuffed inside a giant hardback.
Some say physical books are dead. Others say heck no, and not only want to read them but build an inhabitable library with them, too.
That's the dream of the folks at the new Bay Area Book Festival, who recently wound up with a donation of 50,000 tomes from the Internet Archive. Rather than hand them out like lame-o's, they teamed up with art collective FLUX Foundation—which has made looming architecture for Burning Man and Coachella—and designed the ultimate book-on-book temple.
They call it "Lacuna," and it will sit for three days at Berkeley's MLK Civic Center Park like a surreal teepee whose wooden skeleton is packed with novels and nonfiction. A dozen alcoves will offer the opportunity for secluded reading, and if people like what they have in hand, they're welcome to take it home for free. (All this is dependent on the project's Kickstarter funding, of course.)
"Mostly, 'Lacuna' is a representation of that space we occupy when we're deep in a book we love, when we're lost and finding ourselves through reading," explains an organizer in a video promo. But the library isn't a mere visual metaphor—its very structure is meant to make readers feel like they're stuffed into a big hardback. The ceiling's guide wires are strung with ripped-out texts, creating a "thatchlike roof that encloses people in a space that'll feel a bit like they're inside the pages of books."
It sounds comforting, in a slightly claustrophobic way:
H/t Visual News