Libraries that speak loudly

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THROUGHOUT May, books will be taken from their cramped, dusty confines in the old National Library of Greece and gingerly placed on trolleys. Over 2m items, including a collection of 4,500 manuscripts dating from the 9th to the 19th century, will make the trip through the busy streets from the venerable neoclassical building in the heart of Athens to their new home in the Stavros Niarchos Foundational Cultural Centre. The journey of these books neatly maps what has happened to the architecture of national libraries the world over. The books’ old home, completed in 1903, was designed as a temple of learning to be used by a limited academic elite. Their new one is part of a cultural complex, which includes an opera house, standing at the heart of a new section of the city. 

Unlike the old library, the new site makes little reference to the architectural language of ancient Greece. It seeks to convey the idea of a modern nation, one comfortable with its history but also capable of expressing itself in a contemporary idiom on a grand scale….Continue reading

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