Small Fragments of War Enshrined in Everyday Life by Blaine Western and Nell May considers structure as proposition; one that is dialectic, continuous and researching. Small Fragments of War Enshrined in Everyday Life is accompanied by a publication that seeks to engage dialogue around how a building – as an image and as an instrument – might represent its own physical and situational capabilities.
The arrangement of windows about the façade of a building, or the fenestration, works to distinguish the relationship between its interior and exterior. The view from the windows offers an understanding of the interaction between architecture and site – how it relates to its domain, its locale. The façade of this building, the UoA General Library, is a technological façade – comprised of brises-soleil (sun breakers) – a set of louvre panels that shield the perimeter of the North-West, South-West and North-East sides of the building. However, the brises-soleil that adorn the UoA General Library – a technology designed to regulate heat and light through combed shutters – today, remain unresponsive to the changing light of each day as the sun moves across the sky.
The façade of the General Library has certainly changed since its inception. Once, a pitted pattern of vertically stacked, hollow cinder blocks framed the entrance. Peculiarly, it was only reflected light which filtered through the gapped concrete screen over the course of a day. And while the palpable variations of natural light is an asset to the particulars of any space, the contemporary gallery defaults to the use of artificial light. This fluorescent, top-lit standard effectively universalises the distribution of light in a space – denying the contingent, temporal quality of natural light. New Zealand regional light is said to be intense, clear, particularising, and ruthless. It is this kind of tactile reading of spaces, inflected with light and a range of sensory perceptions, which counters this ‘loss of nearness’ to allow a direct interaction with our full human senses, necessary to go beyond the scenographic. The capacity to be-‘in space’ counters the mere image of globalised architectonic technologies and instead allows us to understand how a building or locality has received such technology and the attitude taken in its construction.