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Phone booth library in NYC
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Phone booth library in NYC

on the streets of new york architect john locke has repurposed phone booths into communal libraries or book drops,
installing bookshelves within the structures filled with books for residents to take, borrow, or exchange.
the phonebooth shown here, ‘DUB 002‘, is part of his ‘department of urban betterment‘ interventionist project.

adopting the same concept as james econs’s ‘phoneboox‘ in the UK, locke’s project consists of a machine-cut
and assembled plywood shelf, designed with indents to hang securely to the interior of the phone booth
without the need for any additional fasteners. the pay phone and all signage remains completely viewable
and operable, nestled within the frame of the bookshelf. installed in manhattan valley and morningside heights,
the design is easily replicable in phonebooths throughout the city.

even as they are rendered obsolete by the ubiquity of smartphones, I’m interested in pay phones because
they are both anachronistic and quotidian. relics, they’re dead technology perched on the edge of obsolescence,
a skeuomorph hearkening back to a lost shared public space we might no longer have any use for.
but they can also be a place of opportunity, something to reprogram and somewhere to come together
and share a good book with your neighbors.’
 – john locke

all books in the project were donated by local residents.
brooklyn-based fabricators kontraptionist milled the plywood for the shelving.

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Dotato di una buona dose di ottimismo e di uno spiccato senso della poesia metropolitana, l’architetto John Locke ha pianificato un progetto, parte del suo Department of urban betterment, per riutilizzare un elemento dell’arredo urbano ormai in disuso come le cabine telefoniche.

Per donare una nuova destinazione d’uso a questo pezzo di archeologia moderna però Locke è ricorso non a un’idea ultramoderna, ma a un altra pratica sempre più rara come la lettura e a un altro oggetto, il libro cartaceo, che perde presa ogni giorno di più sulla realtà quotidiana.

I telefoni pubblici nel progetto di Locke, pur ancora funzionanti, vengono incorniciati da una scaffalatura che si aggancia alla cabina, in cui ognuno potrà lasciare, prendere, riportare, consultare vecchi libri in una sorta di bookcrossing localizzato. Ce la faranno i libri a vincere il degrado? I volumi spariranno in breve tempo o verranno sommersi di rifiuti? I newyorkesi sapranno cogliere l’idea? Voi cosa ne pensate?

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