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Polymorphic Carbon Library
The Common Room, Newcastle
Opening July 2021



The Polymorphic Carbon Library is a library for carbon. It is a space to explore this material in all its forms, and make visible the places where carbon is active in the North East today. Within its architecture artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby bring together people, documents and materials, to consider the many ways in which carbon is entangled with our lives at this critical time when our society is beginning its transition away from fossil fuels.

The Carbon Library is a place for interactive encounter and discovery where visitors to The Common Room can find out more about carbon and its connections with our lives. Designed using the carbon structures of diamond, graphite, and Buckminsterfullerene, the library opens engaging spaces for discussion and exchange, becoming a dynamic place to share ideas and imagine the new relationships and futures we can build with carbon.

During the opening festival of The Common Room, the Polymorphic Carbon Library will change in form, gathering new materials and stories of carbon into its archive. This process will take shape through four assemblies exploring the role of carbon in technologies, ecologies, futures and places. Each assembly will host a range of events, workshops and material demonstrations, to share vital and timely conversions around carbon, highlighting the changing role of carbon in the twenty-first century.



The Polymorphic Carbon Library will be installed within the grand Victorian architecture of the Wood Memorial Hall, built as a central space in the headquarters of The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. Its Library and archives are now the largest publicly accessible collection of mining information in the world.

The building is being restored and reopening as the Common Room in 2021 with support from The Heritage Lottery Fund. In this context, The Polymorphic Carbon Library will explore new narratives and alternative futures of human interrelations with carbon.