Website featuring a large selection of
high quality images of the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria
Library) in Egypt. All photography by James Willis.
CLICK HERE IF NOT AUTOMATICALLY FORWARDED
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
James Willis is
one of the most experienced photographers in the UK. Specialising
corporate print, advertising & editorial use - he works throughout
Europe, the Middle East, Far East & USA.
In a career spanning 25 years, his photographs have contributed
to award-winning projects for clients such as: Amlin, Balfour
Beatty, Bank of Scotland, Banque Paribas, Barclays Group, Commercial
of Kuwait, Contemporary Arts Society, Daiwa Europe Bank, Debenhams,
Eversheds, Guardian Financial Services, Gulf Bank, Hambros Bank,
Inter-Continental Hotels, Johnson Matthey, KPMG, Merrill Lynch,
Electricity, National Bank of Kuwait, NatWest Consulting, PowerGen,
Procter & Gamble, Reuters, Riggs AP Bank, Standard Life,
Visa International; to name a few.
ABOUT THE LIBRARY:
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is not a library building
- it is a modern-day monument to the seamless marriage of architectural
engineering excellence. Built by a JV alliance of Balfour Beatty
and Arab Contractors of Egypt for the Egyptian Ministry of Education,
the $117.5 million contract has been recognised as the catalyst of
urban regeneration for the sea port and holiday resort of Alexandria.
Designed by the Snohetta/Hamza Consortium, its breath-taking
form outshone 523 entries in an international competition, convincing
the Egyptian Government that it would be unrivalled in its reflection
of the library's former glory in a 21st Century context. But
triumph of the Bibliotheca is as much about conquering cultural
challenges as it is about engineering feats, and it is this aspect
of the project
that makes it truly worthy of being labelled "the ultimate
Ancient Concept, Modern Context
The dominant element of the Bibliotheca is an enormous open-plan
reading room with 2,500 places that cascade down seven terraces,
making it the largest library reading room in the world. The "wow" factor
is etched deep into the facade of this mesmerising building,
with several engineering firsts, including the world's largest
diaphragm wall, sunk to a depth of 35m and reinforced by a continuous
ring beam. Be it a rising sun, a microchip wafer, a mosque with
an infinite number of columns...there's a symbol for everyone
new Bibliotheca Alexandrina!
The main library building is circular in plan (160m diameter) and
consists of a reinforced concrete frame commencing 4 storeys below
ground and a roof that slants up from its main entrance on the Corniche
to a height of 32m. The outer wall is embossed with random, scrambled
examples of letters and pictograms from alphabets around the world
and on the western side, a suspended black spherical planetarium,
representing the moon, has been constructed to recall the observatory
attached to the ancient library of Alexandria. Papyrus has been strategically
planted in and around a newly constructed moat like a reflecting
pool in which the giant building appears to float.
Recently, the Bibliotheca has been shortlisted for an International
Award hosted by the British Construction Industry (BCI). Earlier
this year, it secured top honours in the face of stiff competition,
by sweeping the Quality in Construction (QIC) International Performance
of the Year Award for 2001.