The Microlibrary Warak Kayu is the fifth built project within the Microlibrary series – an initiative to increase reading interest by creating socially-performative multi-functional community spaces with environmentally- conscious design and materials, which aim to serve low-income neighborhoods. Designed by SHAU and prefabricated by PT Kayu Lapis Indonesia, this project is a collaboration between the local community, private sector and the government – a gift from the Arkatama Isvara Foundation to the city of Semarang. The microlibrary charges no entry fee and is run by the Harvey Center – a locally-embedded charity group in Semarang – in coordination with the local government.
Architecturally it represents SHAU’s passive climate design, material and typology experimentation for the tropical context. After numerous design iterations, the most favorable design concept was the one with the whole building being elevated, like a traditional ‘rumah panggung’ (house on stilts) on account of the fact that it not only functions as library but also adds value by becoming a neighborhood and community center. In addition, it also serves to promote Indonesian engineered wood products and manufacturing capabilities. By elevating the library, various spatial configurations, multiple programs and a wide range of activities can be offered.
On the ground is a large semi outdoor area, which can be used for workshops, as well as a wide tribune seating at the entrance for watching presentations or movies. A wooden swing serves to grab the attention of kids. The ground area is framed by a ring of planter boxes to create a more intimate atmosphere. Upstairs in the library itself, there is a net where kids can lie down, relax and read but also directly communicate with parents and friends in the space underneath. According to SHAU, it is important to have this multi-programmatic approach to make the library a popular place, since reading alone is not yet considered a fun activity in the country.