Sir Isaac Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation is said to have come to
him as he sat in the dappled light of an apple tree, thinking. Whether he
was literally struck with his answer to why we don’t float off the planet
is open to question but there can be little doubt that he was in the right
place at the right time. From the Buddha to DH Lawrence and beyond,
thinkers and students of every subject have found a space in which to
contemplate under the gently dynamic light the Japanese call korambi.
This thought led Coffey Architects to conceive the main reading room of
the Science Museum’s new Dana Research Centre and Library in London’s
South Kensington as a canopy of filtered light under which research,
reading and rumination could prosper.
As ‘the home of human ingenuity’, the Science Museum contains a world-class collection of scientific, technological and medical records, receiving
more than 3m visitors a year and mounting award-winning exhibitions.
The new research centre, on the site of the former Dana Cafe, is home to
the Museum’s Research and Public History Department. The library is the
first part of a major campus overhaul set to complete in 2019. In addition
to providing flexible space for the museum’s doctoral candidates and
researchers, it offers free public access to world-class library and archive
collections for science and engineering. It holds approximately 5500
volumes on open shelving, and terminals to access digital resources.
Selected archives and items are also available for transport from the
facilities in Wroughton, a former Air Force base near Swindon in Wiltshire,
whose holdings include original scientific, technical and medical works
from the past 500 years.
Reading the rooms
Michael Henriksen, associate of Coffey Architects, presents the concept for dappled daylighting for the main reading room at London’s
Science Museum research centre, intended to create the perfect atmosphere for reading and rumination
During the day, perforations in the panels control the entry of daylight. At night the
panels are lit with internal LEDs with a warm colour temperature