The design of the Library takes advantage of the strategic position, the connectivity and the qualities of the site to create a unique building and a rich public space that is strongly rooted in its context. The site of the Library becomes a central point in creating the missing links between Jarosława Iwaszkiewicza street and the Catholic Church, as well as intensifying the public program and establishing a human scale in the entire area.
The concept for the new Municipal Public Library (MPL) in Szczecin is to create a social condenser and a new reference point for the district of Prawobrzeże, by compressing the traditional functions of the library into an efficient central volume and dedicating the largest part of the building around it into encounters and activities for the users. The volume of the Library is therefore designed as a simple and efficient elongated box that is positioned on the northern side of the site, allowing for a framed passage to the adjacent church on the north side and a large landscaped public space on the south.
The volume of the building is divided in three functional zones that are interconnected by a large corridor on the south side. The western zone contains the entrance, the main hall and the adults’ library functions. The central zone comprises of two levels: on the ground floor it accommodates most of the library rooms that need isolation, the administration offices and the utility services – on the first floor it houses a large auditorium hall that can host big events or be divided by movable partitions into separate rooms for smaller gatherings.
On the western zone of the building there is the children library, the staircase and the elevator to the auditorium’s mezzanine. The southern corridor that connects the three zones functions as an internal street of circulation, but also as an informal reading area with large bookshelves walls on the one side and playful movable furniture on the other side. The interior space of the library provides large open spaces and a clear organization that is flexible to future changes and adaptations.
The main hall is a double high space that offers grandeur and a sense of monumentality that highlights the public character of the building. The internal street offers an informal reading and activities zone that can be ever changing and customizable by the users and the staff of the library. The central space of the library contains most of the bookshelves and closed rooms on the ground floor, defining the identity of the library and organizing its interior layout.
The large auditorium space on the first floor of the central area works as a continuation of the main hall, by having its main access point through the podium of bookshelves and reading areas of the adults’ department on the western zone. The internal facades of the auditorium are glazed and open to the public spaces of the library, exposing its activity to the visitors and inviting them to participate – although visual separation is also possible through the use of curtains.
The envelope of the building is a simple rectangular form that adapts to the parameters set by the context, the internal organization of the Library and the continuity between the inside space and the exterior landscape. The sloped roof enhances the domestic scale and character of the Library, makes more efficient the use of the interior spaces and creates a playful volumetric interaction with the roof of the central volume that accommodates the auditorium.
The porosity of the façade and the extension of the interior space to the exterior highlights the public character of the Library and creates more possibilities for informal happenings and open-air events during the spring and summer months. The outdoors public space of the Library is designed as a series of programmatic stripes that emerge from the interior of the building and extend to the exterior.
The stripes contain outdoors public program and landscaped areas when intersected by perpendicular zones of activities, creating an urban patchwork of uses or a mosaic of events for the Library users and the district of Prawobrzeże at large. The materiality of the building is austere and limited to the fundamentals, so that the Library adopts a timeless and robust identity as a modest landmark in the city. The structure is out of concrete to provide thermal mass and reduce the heating and cooling demands in the winter and summer respectively. Source by Architects for Urbanity.
- Location: Szczecin, Poland
- Architect: Architects for Urbanity
- Project Team: Irgen Salianji, Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Karolina Duda, Konstantina Lola
- Status: Competition project
- Year: 2018
- Images: Courtesy of Architects for Urbanity
Article by Marco Rinaldi