Simplicity Is Not Merely The Absence Of Complexity


Simplicity Is Not Merely The Absence Of Complexity: A post by Steven Bell over on the Designing Better Libraries Blog. Steven asks "How do we resolve the need for complexity with the desire for simplicity? I don't quite have the answer, but I do like to read about this issue as it helps to better understand the issues."


There are some astounding examples of poor library design by architects who don't understand libraries. Back in 2001 there was an account of a library in England where the stacks had to be disassembled before a scaffolding could be put up to change the lightbulbs. The architect got an award for his design, before it was found out how poorly the library was designed.
        My account at LIBREF-L said:
          According to a posting at LISNEWS (, the new libraryat Peckham, in London, England, which has won awards for new librarydesigns, will close down for five days simply to change the lightbulbs. Thelightbulbs are so high up in the ceiling, that platforms will have to beerected so electricians will be able to reach the 300 or so lightbulbs.Books and shelves will have to be temporarily moved to make room for theplatforms, and this will mean the library will be closed for five daysevery six or seven months or so.
          The architect, Will Alsop, was at one time abusively critical of people who had traditional ideas about library designs, and didn't want something new. The news account further says,
      "Mr Alsop, who says councils' adherence to tradition stands in the way of modern building, launched his tirade after he won the £20,000 Stirling Prize for Architecture for the library... Mr Alsop was unavailable for comment about the library's lights. "
        See:, ,421302,00.html

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