The Architecture Of Poetry Centres

Poetry is an art almost as ancient as architecture, and its appreciation remains as important today as ever. However, as cities and communities grow larger and busier, those spaces that allow poetry lovers access to the art form are likely to be located in the heart of the hustle and bustle. These amazing poetry centres have all used architecture to create a quiet space amongst the urban jungle for visitors to stop, relax, and enjoy poetry.

University of Arizona Poetry Center / Line and Space

University of Arizona, Poetry Center, Line and Space, architects, architecture, poetry

Designed by Line and Space architects, the University of Arizona’s poetry center has spaces that progress from west to east. Image source

Since opening back in 2008, the University of Arizona has been home to one of the finest collections of Contemporary Poetry in North America, and such an impressive collection deserves an equally impressive home. The University of Arizona's Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center was designed to become a facility for students, teachers, writers, and the general public to read, research, teach, and contemplate poetry.

When designing the facility, the biggest problem was finding a way to create a space in which active discourse and quiet contemplation could take place side-by-side without disruption. The architects (Line and Space) dealt with this by creating a progression from west to east; starting with the active and open ‘Humanities Seminar Room’ which features transparent walls that can be opened to allow flexibility and host larger events.

As visitors move east through the facility the public spaces dissolve into more intimate spaces, all the way down to the bamboo garden, an outdoor space designated for solitude and contemplation.

Poetry Foundation, Chicago, USA (John Ronan Architects)

poetry, foundation, chicago, architecture,

The Poetry Foundation opened in 2011 in Chicago. Image source

The Poetry Foundation, opened in 2011 in Chicago, USA, creates a boundary between in its inner, contemplative spaces and that of the busy streets of Chicago. In order to set the tone of the space, visitors enter the Poetry Foundation through a garden which not only creates an immediate disconnect from the bustle city streets, but allows visitors to view the double-height library space, in a way announcing to them that they are entering into a literary environment.

Further inside the Poetry Foundation building, an exhibition gallery connects the library to a performance space. This is where visitors are able to listen to poets read their work against the backdrop of the garden. The building was designed so that all public spaces within have views into the garden, and its outer layer of oxidised zinc becomes perforated where it borders the garden.

This allows the garden to be seen from the street, encouraging the general public to seek quiet refuge within. From inside, the zinc wall actually serves to internalize the garden and create a sense of distance and removal from the outside world.

Scottish Poetry Library Building, Edinburgh, Scotland (Malcolm Fraser Architects)

Scottish Poetry Library Building, Edinburgh, Scotland, Malcolm Fraser Architects, poetry

Edinburgh's Scottish Poetry Library underwent a £500,000 refurbishment in 2015. Image source

Edinburgh's Scottish Poetry Library has been in operation since 1999, undergoing a £500,000 refurbishment in 2015 after being closed to the public for 6 months. Originally designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, the building was shortlisted for “Building of the Year” in 2000 by UK TV network Channel 4, and was included in Prospect magazine's 2005 list of the 100 best modern Scottish buildings.

Described as “a poem in glass and stone”, the redevelopment added more space within the library for materials, as well as providing visitors with access to soundproofed space in which to hold lessons and workshops without disturbing other patrons. The new layout, designed by Nicoll Russell Studios and built by fit-out contractor Morris & Spottiswood, also added a terrace area and improved reading and education facilities as well as a retail area.

Pavilosta Poet Huts

The Pavilosta Poet Huts architecture competition is tasking architecture enthusiasts with creating an inviting retreat within the quaint fishing village on the western coast of Latvia. Already a popular European tourist destination, Pavilosta is known for its long sandy beach and idyllic Baltic Sea waters.

In addition to designing the “Poet Huts” for the artists in residence, participants are being asked to design a multifunctional space to facilitate small exhibitions, presentations and group gatherings, as well as permanent accommodation for the host family.

Open architecture competitions

  • Closest Deadline first
  • Project competitions first
    Selected winning projects have the potential to be constructed
  • Ideas competitions first
    Experimental competitions with the focus on pushing the boundaries of creativity
project COMPETITION
Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center

Design an iconic visitor center for Abu Dhabi’s unique wetlands natural reserve

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jan 14
Feb 25
May 28
Register now
project COMPETITION
Mega Dunes Eco Lodges - Abu Dhabi

Design comfortable, sustainable visitor huts for the Abu Dhabi protected nature reserve

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jan 17
Feb 28
Jun 01
Register now
project COMPETITION
Monte d'Oiro Wine Tasting Room

Design an iconic space for guests to enjoy the wines and the views of this Portuguese vineyard

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jan 21
Mar 03
Jun 05
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
MICROHOME 2020 - Small living, huge impact!

Design a new concept of small-scale architecture with the second annual Microhomes competition

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 07
Sep 09
Nov 04
Register now
project COMPETITION
Kurgi Observation Tower

Design an eco-farm observation tower in UNESCO biosphere reserve

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jan 24
Mar 06
Jun 08
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
RE-Stock London Housing

Submit affordable housing solutions for the one of the world’s most iconic and expensive cities

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jan 28
Mar 10
Jun 12
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge

Design affordable housing solutions for Australia’s fastest-growing city

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 16
Sep 08
Nov 03
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Prisons Redesigned!

Redesign and improve the way prisons work

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 18
Sep 10
Nov 05
Register now
essay COMPETITION
ESSAY: The Architecture of Prisons

Submit your essay on prison architecture

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 19
Sep 11
Nov 06
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Pavilion Of Humanity: First Contact

How would you represent the best that humanity has to offer through architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 23
Sep 15
Nov 10
Register now
essay COMPETITION
What is Sustainable Architecture?

Share your opinion on sustainable architecture in the open essay competition

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Jun 24
Sep 16
Nov 11
Register now

ARCHITECTURE COMPETITIONS

Newsletter