Liminal Library

TYPOLOGY: public cultural space + park
AREA: 2,000 sft
LOCATION: chacha nehru park, masab tank, HYDERABAD, TELANGANA, INDIA
designed for: greater hyderabad municipal corporation
YEAR: 2019-2021

Masab Tank in Hyderabad derives its name from Ma Saheba Tank, which was a reservoir built by the Qutb Shahis, the founding dynasty of Hyderabad. Ma Saheba was the titled endowed to Hayat Bakshi Begum, the wife of Qutb Shah VI. The water tank has, over centuries, been encroached upon and developed into a dense urban commercial area, known as Masab Tank. The only vestiges of the original tank are the retaining walls that divide the area vertically and the small artificial lake that was created within Chacha Nehru Park in Lower Masab Tank.

To be placed on a triangular grove of palm trees by the lake, the library is conceived as a liminal space: neither entirely indoors, nor outdoors, but a transition between the park and the reading spaces. It was important to preserve the old palm trees, and so the building has been designed around the trees in such a way that the trees become a part of it and cut through its roof. The building takes the form of a stepped pavilion library rather than a full-fledged formal one. The access is possible in two ways: one entry from the ground level and another directly climbing onto the stepped roof. The roof has been designed as a series of steps that grow to face the lake, where visitors can sit and take in the atmosphere while reading, or contemplate the view.

The library is divided into the main hall, reading/study nooks and computer portals, as well as administrative spaces.

Hyderabad was historically a center of learning and innovation, and an early adopter to modern conveniences and infrastructure. Libraries were commonplace and accessible to the public. Lately, the significance of public libraries has been greatly minimized and many students and researchers look for private spaces such as reading rooms and study circles, as well as the more expensive coworking spaces as quiet zones to work, study or conduct meetings. This library was envisioned as an open, free and accessible public space that would draw students, freelancers and children of all ages, to inculcate the joy of reading.