Would More People Use the Library if it had a Water Slide?
In 2010, Poland's National Library performed a survey to determine the reading habits of the Polish citizenry. The results were not buoying: 56 percent of Poles had not read a book in the past year, either in hard or electronic form. Just as bad was that 46 percent had not attempted to digest anything longer than three pages in the previous month – and this included students and university graduates.
So architect Hugon Kowalski conceived of a new kind of library that he hopes will one day be built in Mosina, a town just south of Pozna?. On its first floor, it's all bibliotheca: Patrons squat on moddish stools among stacks and stacks of books. But then it gets weird: In the middle of the library is a glass column full of water and flailing human bodies. Go up one level and you're suddenly in the middle of a vast swimming facility, complete with a snaking water slide that takes whooping swimmers on a ride inside and outside of the building.
Kowalski got to thinking about his watery wonderland of reading after consulting surveys that showed Poles "rarely indicated" a desire to build new libraries. Rather, they wanted to see more sports halls, pools, kindergartens and retail shops. So the architect decided to supply the public with a fun reason to repeatedly visit a mixed-use library facility. If it so happens that bathers exit the pool's locker room with a fierce desire to consume Hans Fallada, that's just a happy side effect of the building's design.