The library was one of the most important institutions in the Hellenistic and Roman city. Yet, it remains one of the least easily identifiable building forms and one of the most difficult to reconstruct, because it exhibits significant variety in design, scale and monumentality and the use of different component elements. This work re-examines existing knowledge on the architectural form of ancient libraries, it addresses the issues of design that have been discussed repeatedly in modern scholarship and clarifies them in the light of recent findings.
A synthesis of historical analysis and formal analysis deploying shape grammars is proposed as a way to tackle the gap between surviving evidence and original design. The design principles of the known ancient libraries are visually encoded in design rules, the recursive application of which generates library plans of variant scales and monumentality. The design rules incorporate metadata about the instances on which they are based. With the assumption that rules based on multiple occurrences are more likely to define the building type of the library, a frequency analysis of the occurrence of these rules for the reconstruction of the known and identified libraries gives us a probabilistic model for the building type definition of the library.
Dr. Myrsini Mamoli is an analytical archaeologist working on the intersection of art and architectural history and computational design. She has worked as an Assistant Professor of Art History at the College of Art and Design at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, LA, USA (2013-2016), where she has taught courses on ancient Greek and Roman Art and courses on formal theories of style, and as a lecturer at College of Design, Georgia Institute of Technology, where she taught at the Summer Study Abroad Program in Greece and Italy (2007-2014). Her Ph.D. dissertation “Towards a theory of reconstructing ancient libraries” was the recipient of the 2014 Georgia Tech Faculty Award of Merit. She is also the recipient of several fellowships including one from the Fulbright Foundation. She holds a BA in History and Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR (2004), an MSc in Cultural Technology, University of the Aegean, GR (2006) and a Ph.D. in Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology (2014) with areas of study Computation and Architectural History. She is currently based in Greece, fulfilling the 2-year residency requirement of her Fulbright scholarship.