Rutherglen Library Glasgow, 1907 – Architects: George Sinclair and John Ballantine

Shelf-Life asks if the uniquely controlled procurement of over 2600 public buildings across Britain and America around 100 years ago by the Carnegie Library Programme could benefit from some systematic thinking for their re-vitalisation at a time of crisis. Using and developing new techniques of Historic Building Information Modelling (HBIM), the proposal aims to develop a parametric library of building components for Carnegie Libraries of the UK. A digital resource of common elements would enable better-informed, more sensitive and economic proposals for the rehabilitation and re-use of these buildings and set an example for others.

HBIM is limited by the availability of adequate object libraries because historic buildings do not generally have standard construction methods or components and 3D scans, although geometrically accurate, can capture surface information only. 3D scans cannot determine the actual materials or structural elements of existing buildings that lie behind the surface. The number of Carnegie Libraries designed under a very controlled regime provides a unique resource. The deeper cataloguing of available information and technical guidance that is proposed here aims to make a step forward in enabling HBIM to facilitate informed conservation and design within these existing buildings.

Carnegie funding was critical to the public library movement in the UK and many of their features are common to other libraries of the time also. The research will focus upon British libraries but will make reference to the 2000+ US Carnegie libraries.

FunderAward reference
HostResearch Organisation
Welsh School of Architecture
Cardiff University