Author Archives: erikwherrmann

British Library Final

by Erik Herrmann


Underground Caverns: Wired Magazine’s “Underworld” Issue

Wikileaks, Salt mining, easy mac and film archives coverge in this slideshow featured in Wired Magazine on underground storage facilities. The collision of underground cavern geologic formations and normative storage methods is striking. Amazing spaces with nearly no public access.

Corbis Film Preservation Archive

Pionen Data Center, Stockholm, Sweden  – basically a Jame’s Bond set.

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Books by the Foot

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Planning a new addition to your suburban villa, but lacking the literary collection to furnish it? Not a problem with, a retailer for the purchase of books for interior decorating. “With pricing starting at $6.99 per linear foot and … Continue reading

Site 02: “I hate the wall.”

In our nostalgic haste to preserve any remnant of a bygone, “glorious” era, have we forgotten the stories behind the artifacts? On site 02, across from the old rail yards, we confronted this question with a man who built his own environment.

The Welsh worker from the Great Western rail yards below currently resides in the residential rows across from the old rail yard, where he has lived for decades. He worked in the rail yard until it closed.

He was stand-offish at first…

but not for long…

We told him we admired the wall across from his house…

“I hate that wall.”
“I built that wall with my hands, and now I have to stare at it everyday.”
“It was hard, the pieces of that wall were stacked by Welsh people, this whole neighborhood. They (the railroad) brought in the people and the stone.”

2A Sampling an Encounter – Ikea lighting display

While surveying the systems of display at Ikea, I was struck by a lighting display on the lower level:

Despite the dozens of fixtures in the showroom, the most impressive piece is the improvised arrangement of energy-saving bulbs suspended from the ceiling.

In working through the drawing, I discovered five layers of display operating in a logic complimenting their vertical arrangement. The top layer, an improvised candelabra, operates as a visual attractor (it worked on me) the next layer down is signage, clearly labeling the objects and associating them with “green” energy-saving (although they could probably achieve this goal if switched off), the next level down is a tactile example, provided at eye level. The next level down is a open box loaded with assorted products for easy access. These products are packaged in their crates, which make up the fifth and final layer. These tightly packed boxes of bulbs are brought in on palettes and sit at floor level.

The human figure integrates perfectly with the system, reaching for the beautiful, soft bulb shape provided just in reach.

The softness and mild heat of the bulb and the element of light could play a role in developing this drawing…

1 Entrance – British Library

The British Library is an institution of scholars dedicated to organizing and sharing the world’s knowledge. The library is not inclusive to British citizens, but rather is promoted as a great library that “happens” to be located in Britain. As such, any new entry to the British Library should invite gathering and interaction between any and all possible audiences. It should bring together all who use the archives.  

In the face of mass-digitization, the British Library sees its most essential role as providing interaction with actual artifacts, rather than their digital surrogates or place-holders. The experience of a book is much different than that of a screen. A book embraces. A body observing a screen is always disengaged from the content, maintaining a static, perpendicular relationship to the image-emitting surface. A book folds and cleaves, offering a clear space of entry and embracing the reader. An entry to the British Library should create an immediate and intimate relationship with the library’s content.

The proposed entry to the British Library begins with a large, open vaulted volume. The iconic cleave of an open book penetrates the large box and creates an inviting space for gathering. This grand public hall is doubled in depth by a full height wall of mirrored-glass at the back of the hall. In this way, a mundane material of suburbia has been deployed to its full, space-making potential. The hall appears to cut completely through the building, creating an open and inviting void.

In a gesture echoing the entry at the original British Library in St. Pancas, the entry of the new library cascades down to the street. However, while the original library’s entry is dominated by a folding roof-form, the new library cascades with a series of steps. The visitor engages the cascading landscape by climbing into the library. The typical suburban demarcation of entry, the pedestrian crossing path, has been extended into a pattern which wraps the entry court’s surfaces. At the back wall of the space it creates a screen over the mirror-wall, emphasizing  its graphic characteristics and demarcating the physical boundary of the hall. Additionally, the angle of the pathway pattern creates a dynamic visual relationship when viewed in a frontal elevation.

The exterior face of the entry is shrouded in a pattern lifted and adapted from some of the library’s oldest texts. A visual cue to the precious objects held within, this metallic cage wraps the loose planes composing the tectonic of entry court, holding them in place, allowing them to float freely and delicately over the entry. There is a preciousness to this big box filled with millions up millions of items. The baffled, soft tectonic of the large entry hall visually cues the role of the library – indexing and archiving.

Access to the library’s archives, stacks and reading rooms is through the faceted sidewalls of the entry hall. The library serves a diverse group of scholars, teachers, students and professionals and this primary entry hall serves as a gathering antechamber with access to specific areas of the library.

British Library

by Erik Herrmann

This sampling began as an interrogation of the structure of books. While collecting imagery from the vast archives of the British Library, unconventionally constructed or novelty books quickly emerged. Examples included the world’s largest book (an atlas), traditional oriental scrolls and secret letters transmitted in the ends of quills. One of the most striking, idiosyncratic examples is the catalog of Edward Gibbon’s library. This improvised, literal “card” catalog is composed of several decks of playing cards with call numbers scrawled on their blank backs. When opened, the book reveals its internal structure through the faceting and peeling of exposed layers of cards. The distinct shape of the book is recorded as a profile line, with further delineations revealing the cards composing the open page.

This part-to-whole relationship was next identified in the architecture of the British Library, a building which utilizes cascading forms and asymmetries in order to diminish monumentality. In the case of Ikea (our selected “Big Box”), the part-to-whole relationship explored is the entry sequence, particularly the pavement markings delineating the entry sequence. Like the library, an acknowledgement of entry and scale is made, but through commercial architecture devices of flatness and artifice.

The objects have been sequenced in their order of discovery, inviting comparison between them. Compositionally,  they sit on the page as disparate objects in a sequence that most convincingly unifies their elements. The subtle differences found between the objects suggest territory for further exploration, including the dynamism of the object based on the viewer’s perspective, layering through form and material and slipping or cleaving as an indicator of entry.