The aim of this project was twofold: Firstly, I wanted to investigate the wall as an architectural element; its spatial potential and symbolic value on a larger scale. Secondly, I chose to let the programme which would eventually inhabit the wall develop slowly in a parallel process. The wall studies started with a model of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, an element of symbolic value whose physicality is changed with the insertion of prayer notes. As a retaining wall, it acts as an element of unity between social entities rather than a separation. It became the major reference for the site in Lisbon that initiated my interest in the wall and its potential to hold programme and progress over time.
The programme developed around the concepts of reuse and assemblage. I collected waste material in an attempt to build a “garbage wall” that could start to suggest programmatic substance. Coming across a lot of old books that were left in the recycling station’s exchange centre, I directed my interest towards these discarded books and their potential to create architecture in dialogue with the wall.
Finally, the architecture forms spatial framework for the set of rules for the construction of the Book Wall. It is a public space, accessible for anyone to deposit or collect books, any time of the day. The outer perimeter of the new wall is offset about two metres from the existing retaining wall. With time, the wall will expand upwards and inwards, finally touching the original retaining wall and imploding, becoming landfill, as is the final destination of books that have played out their role.