Elements Library by Hubo Studio

WORDS Celeste Jacobs PHOTOS Dave Southwood

Asher Marcus of Hubo Studio talks us through the revamp of King David School’s Elements Library.

Usually a library is a space for books,” says an enthusiastic Asher Marcus of Hubo Studio, “but we transformed the library into a space for readers.”

He’s talking about the new Elements Library located at King David School in Sandton, Johannesburg – a space that also serves as a media centre and teaching space. “We were approached by a client with a long legacy around books,” says Asher. “As an avid reader, I wanted to understand how a space could facilitate reading.”

Asher and his team have a keen interest in interior design, and a passion for moulding spaces within the corporate and NGO landscapes. With an inspired client, he and Alma Mpungwe worked to reinvent reading by creating a wonderland that, in these formative years for a young reader, would create experiences to lay a firm foundation.

The space takes its name from the elements of earth, air, fire and water – an inclusive concept that Asher describes as the golden thread that can be found in every story and every book. The spatial exploration of each element allows for multiple teaching and learning opportunities, with story time around the proverbial campfire, or a lesson on an iPad in the cloud.

“A library is often a cathedral for books – a museum for stories, where silence is law and the librarian rules,” Asher says. “We wanted to flip this idea on its head and create a kid-centric backdrop for exploring and imagining, where the story can leave the book, and be told and experienced.”

You can, for example, try to find Wally in the largest Where’s Wally? in Africa, explore the continent, play a heated game of chess or take Scrabble to a vertical plane. Whether you choose to read up in the clouds, stare up at the stars while learning about our galaxy, or dive into the ocean with a baby humpback whale by your side, a trip to this library is bound to be explorative and memorable.

“It’s the space every teacher is trying to book,” says Asher. “It allows for so many lesson types – the learners especially love lessons in the air chamber. We love kid-centric spaces. We’re all kids at heart – and the adults seem to feel a real pang when they enter the space too.”

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Looking for more? Check out the incredible Wormhole Library designed by MAD.