Baynetna. Between Us. The New Arabic Library
The idea behind the project began in the early part of 2016 when several friends
were asking each other for advice on where one might find Arabic literature in Berlin.
Most people coming to Berlin at that time had had to leave everything behind –
obviously their books as well. The refugee crisis became increasingly apparent,
different organizations set up programs and workshops for refugees, although rarely
with refugees themselves. So the idea developed of opening up a library and cultural
meeting place ourselves.
A library for newcomers and long-time residents can work anywhere. Wherever
people start a new communal life, books can make you happy.
Baynetna. The New Library is both a salon and a library at the same time, and seeks
to open up Arabic and Western culture to each other. Learning about traditions
and everyday life with family and friends is a wonderful way of moving beyond
a perspective that views people as ‘others’ and instead fosters an approach to
discovering the things we share, such as our common humanity.
Baynetna.Between Us gives everybody – regardless their legal status - the chance to
borrow books in Arabic, English or German. We are hosting numerous art exhibitions,
as well as music, film and literature events. With this combination we intend to build
a bridge between the European and Arabic cultures and encourage reflection and
contemplation among our visitors.
The library has been opened since March, 2017 and already there are more than a
thousand books available for borrowing. The number will be increased with the help
of fundraising. Several readings, poetry events and workshops, with an average of 70
visitors, have already taken place.
Dana M. Haddad, Ali Hasan, Ines Kappert, Maher Khwis und Muhannad Qaiconie
Initiators of Baynetna.Between Us. The New Library
The library holds lectures and exhibitions, as well as workshops, seminars and yoga classes;
therefore, the space has to be converted often and easily – sometimes is has to be cleared
completely. So not only furniture for a library had to be designed, but a flexible
modular system that could meet the needs of the various initiatives. The project also
needed to counteract a stale and insignificant hotel atmosphere.
In a seminar competition the most compelling strategies were extracted and
conclusively combined into a master plan in collaboration with all the students. From
the very beginning the students of the TU worked together with guest students from
the ‚In (2) TU Berlin‘ program, which helps refugees via a guest study program to
become regular students at the TU Berlin. It took only eighteen weeks from the first
drafts to realization.
The furniture of the library consists of a flexible modular system from which several
configurations can be set up. The dimensions of the different elements are carefully
coordinated so that they can be compactly stored inside one another to minimize the
usage of the space. They can be transformed easily to meet various requirements.
The intention on part of the students to conceive the furniture system for a ‚western‘,
as well as for an ‚oriental‘, library grew out of the consistent development of their
challenging topic. A classic western library is furnished with chairs and tables, while
in the oriental salon books are read from comfortably placed carpets and pillows.
The different elements can accommodate these different room constellations.
The bookshelves run on wheels and are easily moveable. They consist of two
parts connected by several girths in a way that allows a 180 degree turn. The
closed position protects the books from direct access, which is important during
events by external initiatives. For different library configurations, the shelves can
be opened into two positions: as ‚book towers‘ or as classical bookshelves.
Several cushions also made from fabric remnants create a cozy atmosphere.
If necessary, they can be stored at the back of the bookshelves.
The book boxes form the basic unit of the ‚oriental‘ library. Engraved in the
box lids are board games. Various compartments inside the boxes contain
children’s books and custom-made game pieces. In their storage position the
book boxes can be stored in the lowest compartments of the bookshelves.
60 m self-woven carpets are made from fabric remnants on self-build looms.
The carpet can be loosely connected to the bookcases by means of a interstice
provided for this purpose. The boxes can then be distributed freely along the
carpet paths in the room.
The table elements can be used multi-functionally by means of different mounting
positions. In their storage position, they act as a pedestal and can serve as a
simple seating area or as a low tea table; however, they can also be combined
with other elements and used together to form a stage. By unfolding a side part of
the element, the pedestal becomes a comfortable bench with a slightly skewed
backrest. If you fold the two sides into a 90 degree position, the table is set up.
A total of four stools can be stowed under the platforms. Through a simple folding
system, you can turn the stools into chairs with a comfortable backrest.
Prof. Donatella Fioretti, Dipl.-Ing. Marc Benjamin Drewes