One of the greatest achievements of the ancient world was the Library of Alexandria, at one time the largest library in the world. The library was founded by Ptolemy I Soter in Alexandria in the 3rd century BC, and it burnt down in the 1st century BC.

The idea to rebuild the library (not as a copy of the of the ancient building, but the idea of it) was born in 1974. The greatest supporters of the project were former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the world organization UNESCO. A public tender for the design of the new library was announced in 1988. The winner of the tender was a Norwegian architectural studio Snøhetta. The construction began in 1995.
The New Library of Alexandria opened on 16 October 2002.

The design of the new library is bold and timeless. The unique circular design as well as the location near the circular Alexandria port both refer to the cyclical nature of human knowledge. The library’s shiny sloping roof resembles the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria and it symbolizes the city’s knowledge and culture.

The eleven-storey building is cylindrical with a sloping roof. The main reading room spans several storeys, it is 32 metres high, and it measures 160 metres in diameter. The roof is topped by a glass and aluminium roof. The bottom floors, which can hold up to 8 million volumes, are located underground.

The construction cost a total of 220 million US dollars – not including the cost of the library’s book collection.

The façade of the central building with the area of 6,000 square metres is made of Egyptian granite called Ramadi Fateh Assuan that comes from the Aswan region. The granite is available on the market also under the names Grigio Aswan Light, Gray Aswan, Aswan Gray, Ramadi Ghamik Assuan, and Ramadi Ghamik Granite. 

Interestingly, the Aswan ancient unfinished obelisk is made of the same material. The obelisk, which draws attention of all Aswan visitors, is 42 metres long, and it weighs 1,200 tons.

The library’s façade is made of 4,000 stone slabs that are 15 cm thick and measure from 1 x 1 metre to 2 x 1 metre. The slabs are engraved with characters taken from 120 ancient and modern alphabets. In reference to the exceptional stonemasonry work the library has been nicknamed the Fourth Pyramid.

The engravings and sculptures were made in cooperation with the artists Jorunn Sannes and Kristian Blystad.

The square outside the library is paved with Gray Aswan in combination with Nero Zimbabwe.

Granite was used also for tiles on the communication paths in the library.

The New Library of Alexandria covers an area of 70,000 square metres. The main reading room covering 20,000 square metres has the capacity of 2,000 visitors, which makes it the largest reading room in the world.

The library complex includes a 5,000 square metre congress centre (which is connected with the library via an underground corridor), a planetarium (including the History of Science Museum), and a Planetarium Science Centre ALEXploratorium. There library houses four museums.

Source: Kurier kamieniarski

Author: Kurier Kamieniarski | Published: 12 March 2018