José Saramago Municipal Library
The new Public Library of Loures, one of Lisbon's satellite towns, faces a landscape of banality. Building a library in a crowded place sounds reasonable, except that people nowadays are as much alienated from reading cities and their visual culture in a critical way as they are from reading books. In his choice of a clean aluminium cladding, Fernando Reis Martins correctly appropriates the banality of the post-industrial, whilst on the other hand, the wooden entrance 'tunnel' that traverses the library and defines its central axis speaks of comfort and welcome. It vaguely resembles the famous church entrance by Tadao Ando, as it also uses simple wood craftmanship to convey proximity and warmth. In the main hall, Martins contrasts these elements with the stark boldness of high concrete walls. In its use of industrial banality transformed by qualities of composition and precision, the new library conveys a sense of 'reading' with a new sensibility through readily available materials.