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© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers
© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers
© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers
© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers
© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing Photographers
The Poetry Foundation is one of the world’s largest independent, non-profit literary organisations. Its new home is a build­ing in dialogue with a garden. The garden space is created through erosion of an implied volume as described by the L-shaped proper­ty boundary of the site. In this manner, the garden is implied as another “room” and part of the building’s slowly unfolding spatial se­quence. Visitors reach the building by walking through the garden, an approach that blurs hard distinctions between the public and pri­vate realms. Inside the building an exhibition gallery connects the library to the poetry read­ing room, where poets read their work to au­diences in an intimate atmosphere, unmediat­ed by technology. The architects employed a variety of materials – glass, concrete, fabric – to fine-tune the reading room’s acoustical quali­ties. Conceptually the building is made up of a series of layers through which visitors move. These layers – made of zinc, glass, and wood – peel apart to define the various programmatic zones. The outer layer, a cladding of corrugat­ed oxidised zinc, lends the building a mono­lithic appearance from the outside. Where it borders the garden the clad­ding becomes perforated and takes on a veil-like, diaphanous quality, allowing visual access from the street. Where there are window openings it mutates into a sun-shading element. At the gar­den, the building enclosure terminates, but the zinc cladding continues over a series of al­uminium-clad support members in a truss-like configuration.