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Interior Design (MA)

Evgeniya Beruchashvili

Bowater Public Library: Exploring Secluded Study Spaces in Modern Library Design

The Bowater Public Library thesis delves into the design aspects of a public library, specifically focusing on the incorporation of secluded study spaces. The primary research question driving this investigation is whether moments of seclusion can significantly influence the design of a public library.

Contemporary Challenges in Maintaining Focus:

In today's society, individuals frequently encounter difficulties in maintaining their focus due to a myriad of distractions, such as smartphones, social media platforms, and incessant notifications. These distractions pose a significant challenge to individuals attempting to concentrate on a single task or activity. Consequently, many people actively seek quiet and secluded spaces where they can work undisturbed and dedicate their attention to the task at hand. Public libraries have become a popular choice for individuals in search of seclusion and a conducive work environment.

The Evolving Nature of Libraries:

I believe that libraries serve as reflections of our society and, as a result, their typology is in a constant state of flux. As the dynamics within our communities evolve, so too must the design and purpose of libraries. Historically, libraries were limited to being pieces of furniture or designated study spaces solely reserved for individuals and their families. Over time, libraries transformed into dedicated spaces that housed treasured books accessible only to the privileged literate population. The advent of the industrial revolution ushered in rapid book production, which posed storage challenges for libraries. Consequently, library architecture and spatial arrangements had to adapt accordingly. In the present day, public libraries have become vibrant hubs that actively contribute to and support local communities. However, this recent development places additional pressure on the functionality of public libraries.

Preserving the Essence of Libraries:

My research has concluded that because of the recent developments, many public libraries are failing to provide adequate study spaces. Without them, a library risks becoming merely book storage with community activities. I firmly believe that proper study areas are integral to the essence of a library and should not be compromised. Therefore, my project aims to address this issue by reintroducing secluded study spaces to public libraries, thereby enhancing their functionality and meeting the evolving needs of library users.

Photo of Evgeniya Beruchashvili

Hello, I'm Evgeniya, an interior designer. I completed my BA in Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art and gained valuable experience at FORM Bureau in Moscow, working on residential and commercial projects.

At the Royal College of Art, I focused on finding my design voice and shaping my thesis project. My dissertation, titled 'Reflection on the current state of architecture: Demolition, ‘I would prefer not to’, Maintenance, and Design Activism,' explores the role of designers in the current economic system and questions the traditional perception of designers as 'form givers.'

During my final year, I merged conventional architectural principles with material exploration to develop my thesis.

Recent exhibitions, collaborations, awards include:

  • Royal College of Art x Goethe Institute (2022) - collaboration between MA Interior Design and PhD students
  • Royal Academy of Arts (2022) - 'John Hejduk: London Masque' - exhibition
  • Interior Educators National Writing Award (2020) - Winner

Greyboard model of the site
25 Bowater Road site model, 1:100
Greyboard model of the site
25 Bowater Road site model, 1:100


This year, my design process was significantly influenced by the book 'Non-referential Architecture' by Valerio Olgiati and Markus Breitschmid. The book urges designers to consider the architectonics of buildings. By focusing on the architectonics of a structure, we aim to comprehend its form, proportions, rhythm, materials, and lighting conditions. This understanding allows us to grasp why a space evokes particular emotions.

Throughout the year, my primary design methodology has been model making, which has enabled me to actively pursue this understanding. By creating physical models, I have delved into the intricate details of architecture and translated them into tangible forms. This approach has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of how space influences our emotions.

Greyboard exploration model
Secluded study spaces exploration, 1:50
Greyboard exploration model
Secluded study spaces exploration, 1:50
Greyboard exploration model
Library volume exploration, 1:50
Greyboard exploration model
Library strategy exploration, 1:50
Greyboard exploration model
Library strategy exploration, 1:50
Greyboard model
Library strategy exploration, 1:50
Smashed Stone
smashed natural stone
Veneer pieces
Veneer collage
Veneer collage
1:1 veneer mosaic
Veneer mosaic


Throughout the year, I have developed a unique approach to working with materials by breaking or tearing them apart. Specifically, my focus on veneer involved tearing it apart and reassembling it. This technique led to experiments with veneer-based mosaics and arrangements. Notably, the library design incorporates a mosaic featuring library motifs as a prominent element.

Dark material palette
Light material palette
Green material palette

Material Palettes

Dark Palette - The building's secluded areas on the second and fourth floors feature a prevalent dark palette. Triple stained ash veneer is used on the main surfaces, while painted green veneer serves for navigation and color accents. Cork flooring is used throughout the main library spaces, providing excellent sound insulation. Blackened steel appears in the metal details surrounding the library, and soft furnishings are adorned with UK-made textiles combining wool and hemp.

Light Palette - In contrast, the more open and less quiet spaces on the first and third floors adopt a light material palette. Natural ash is left untreated and used in its original state.

Green Palette - The guiding material in this palette is green-painted ash, accompanied by terrazzo made from reclaimed site bricks. This palette dominates the ground floor, encompassing the entrance sequence and the auditorium, as well as transitional spaces within the library.

Model of the strategy on a plinth
1:50 Model of the proposal
Model of the strategy on a plinth
1:50 Model of the proposal
Collage of the auditorium with War and Peace characters
Library AuditoriumDigital Collage Entourage - Illustrations by Dementy Shmarinov for "War and Peace" by Fedor Dostoevsky
Collage of the reception with Mary Poppins characters
Reception areaDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Mary Shepard for "Mary Poppins" by Pamela Lyndon Travers
Children's area of the library with Pippi Longstocking characters
Children's library and MezzanineDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by E. Dvoskina for "Pippy Longstocking" by Astrid Lindgren
Collage of the library
Main library areaDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Paul Gustave Dore for "The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri
Main Library area with Pride and Prejudice character
Main library, Individual Seating SpaceDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Hugh Thomson for "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
Quiet library space with The Picture of Dorian Gray character
Quiet Library EntranceDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Majeska for "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde
Quiet library space with Sherlock Holmes characters
Quiet Library CarrelsDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Sidney Paget for "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle
Quiet library space with Sherlock Holmes characters
Secluded Study SpaceDigital Collage, Entourage - Illustrations by Sidney Paget for "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle