The proposal Inside Out is an open, collective library designed for researching new perspectives on the Hansaviertel. On the raised lawn behind the Hansa Library a book exchange library will be set up and from May and September grow to fill the 70 metres of shelf units. Readings and other events will also be held there.
The “mission” of the longest open bookcase in Berlin is to build identity for the local community and promote the principle of sharing and participation. The starting point is the radical openness of the free spaces in the Hansaviertel, whose modernist design makes them difficult to appropriate and use. Marginal groups who gather there are therefore seen as dominant and unsettling. As a result there is no real balance to the mix of people using the space. The Hansa Library is one of the few places in the district which can be used by everyone.
The library building by architect Werner Düttmann and the design of the surrounding space by landscape architect Herta Hammerbacher convey the impression that the library, the U-Bahn entrance and the square with its water basin are all one unit. The library building plays with openness and seclusion: with a generous glass front overlooking the square, yet on the side facing the street, tiny windows for people working at desks to peer out of. In the interior of the ring-shaped house is a contemplative inner courtyard, which is temporarily inaccessible due to renovation. As such the building is currently lacking a place of calm, learning and encounter.
The installation, which aims to compensate for this absence and at the same time reinforce the principle of participation, will be built over ten days on an open building site, awakening the curiosity of local residents, and integrating and engaging them as volunteers. The installation echoes the shape of the inner courtyard of the library and fits formally and aesthetically into the square. It comprises a bookshelf and wooden platforms that invite people to linger. The bookshelf will be built inside the birch trees on the raised lawn and forms a clear frame, recreating the proportions of the library façade with its structured framing elements.
Hansaviertel residents will be asked to donate books – bringing private property into the public domain and sharing it. The aim is to fill the shelf by the end of the summer. The surrounding institutions such as the Grips-Theater, the Academie der Künste and of course the Hansa Library itself will be asked to use the space for their activities. This could result in readings together with the residents, from the exchange shelf, from favourite books or things people have written themselves. The idea is to create a space that enables different user groups to occupy the space.