Rolex Learning Center Bookstore, by Studio Banana

Inside the emblematic Rolex Learning Center building designed by the Japanese studio SANAA, the architects of Studio Banana are commissioned to design the library for the Federal Institute of Technology of Switzerland (EPFL), ranked among the twenty best universities in the world.


Bookstore takes the opportunity to reinvent the library’s experience in the era of digital media, designing a unique environment that differs from the building itself but at the same time respects it and maintains the original spirit of the Rolex Learning Center.


The result to build the Bookstore focuses on the experience of the reader, optimizing the design of the product exhibition to increase sales. The library consists of five modules or structures, called “capsules”, that are aligned in an aesthetic way with the building and that provide a cozy and warm feeling.


In recent years the EPFL has undergone a transformation that prioritizes the learning experience, against classical academic teachings. The building itself is conceived as a student living space, full of libraries, social areas, private study spaces, leisure areas and restaurants.


The idea of Bookstore is based on conceiving a library with the warmth and comfort of a library


This new architecture within another, not only integrates, but feeds on that spirit. An emotional connection with books is sought, becoming an important point.


A translucent perimeter, based on a metal sheet curved in white, delimits the area of ​​the Bookstore and in the same way makes it a participant in everything that happens around it. It manages to maintain that line of organic component within the great emptiness of the building.


Inside, the typical placement of linear shelves is avoided. For this, the five capsules are designed, a hybrid between architecture and furniture that organizes and distributes the space. The concave interiors offer intimacy to the reader, while the convex exteriors encourage movement and serve as exhibition spaces for the books, encouraging exploration and discovery.


Three of these capsules house books and magazines while another contains the box area. The last capsule is only for the client, an upholstered and comfortable space that serves as a corner for reading and isolation.


The technology and the numerical control allowed the birch plywood to obtain a curved appearance under the steam treatment.


The Bookstore lighting should be invisible to the user. Not being able to alter the existing infrastructure of the building, each capsule was provided with indirect lighting, reflected on the ceilings. In addition, the control of the temperature of the light in each zone was allowed.


Not only the way of exhibiting the books was questioned and designed, so were other necessary elements such as tables, seats, lecterns, notice boards, pots or bins. All the elements show a development to the last detail giving readers the most innovative reading experience, favoring sales.


Photographs of  Studio Banana.