• Library Buildings in Europe

  • The Library Buildings in Europe website records  examples of good and interesting library buildings throughout Europe; it is a benchmarking tool for all those involved in new or refurbished library building projects including librarians, architects or any other professionals.

    The aim is to inspire and support anyone working on a library building project – a new building, an extension, a renovation, or a reworking of interior spaces. The wide variety of case studies will enable those involved in such projects to pick up on new trends, to share knowledge and experience, and to learn from, and make contact with, each other.

    Members of the LIBER Architecture Group (LIBER LAG) are delighted to offer this project as a tool to stimulate innovative ideas and new approaches to transforming the library model in the 21st century.

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    The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen

    Located in the north-east of Scotland, The University of Aberdeen was established in 1495 and its library holds over a million books including significant special collections.  The 15,500 m² spectacular new Sir Duncan Rice Library designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen officially opened in 2012 and provides an advanced 21st century learning and research environment employing the latest technology.  At the heart of the library a spiralling skewed atrium connecting all eight storeys rises up from a double-height entrance area; the dramatic interior contrasts with the clean-cut exterior profile. The library is designed with sustainability in mind and has been certified BREEAM Excellent. Consisting of an irregular pattern of insulated panels and high-performance glazing, the façade not only allows plenty of daylight to penetrate into the building but also offers great views over the city of Aberdeen.  The goal set out in the competition brief was to create a magnificent academic library for science and research which would also serve as a meeting place and a cultural centre for the students and staff of the University and also for the local community.

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    Luxembourg Learning Centre

    Outside view - Luxembourg Learning Centre

    Luxembourg 2018

    The University Library opened the new Luxembourg Learning Centre (LLC) in September 2018 after 12 years of planning. It is a modern library, fit for the years to come with enough space for the growing number of students, including collaborative spaces, and with a modern and flexible technology infrastructure. The University of Luxembourg was formed in 2003 from three formerly autonomous institutes of higher education.

    Learning Centre is located at the heart of the “City of Science” that revitalizes a former industrial site. The LLC is a new building integrated into the steel structure of an old stocking house for the steel production next to two remaining blast furnaces.  A lot of open space allows for spectacular and surprising views.

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    Ghent Faculty Library of Engineering and Architecture

    Faculty Library Engineering Architecture Ghent University interior design

    Ghent 2011

    At the Department of Engineering and Architecture an existing physics laboratory from the 19th century was remodeled to a faculty library. Steel elements were inserted under the balustrade on all sides to contain three levels of bookshelves and stairs. In the center of the room there are reading places. By means of vertically movable grid panels, the shelves can be closed during events. The holdings are then protected but remain visible through the grid construction.

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    Joan Maragall Library

    Joan Maragall Library Barcelona exterior view

    Barcelona, 2014.

    (…) The approach of the competition, won with the motto “Garden of Light” defined clearly the will to preserve the historical garden located around the Vil·la Florida, wich has been working for years as a Civic Cener, while digging out the earth to build below ground level a library that recieves light through courtyards.

    The result is a half-buried building, wich faces the city streets by opaque walls, recovering the idea of the old wall of the estate, and a  bright interior, simultaneously warm and abstract, capturing its light by repeaing courtyards along the main façade. The honey comb clay (Termoarcilla) blocks placed in dry on the interior walls offer a material wich is natural, earthy and traditional, that dialogues with the abstraction of floors and ceilings in radical white. It is a place to be and to meet oneself. (…)

    (Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect of Barcelona)

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    Marburg University Library

    UB Marburg Westfluegel und Atrium

    Marburg, 2018.

    In the heart of the Philipps-Universität, a modern new library was opened in April 2018, housing 46 km of shelved books from the central library plus several branch libraries in the humanities and social sciences. The elegant three-storey building offers 1250 seats for users and is situated between the old town, the historical university building and the old botanical gardens. With up-to-date library technology and 24/7 opening hours it is a new central point of student activity in the newly created campus “Firmanei”. The new library is not only the spatial center of the campus, but plays a central role as a learning and communication hub in order to support study, teaching and research.

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    RCSI Library

    RCSI Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Dublin library building architecture design interior view

    Dublin, 2017.

    In July 2017 RCSI opened a state of the art ten storey health sciences education building. At the heart of the building is the RCSI Library occupying three floors, levels zero to two, with advanced clinical and surgical simulation facilities above, and a five hundred-seat auditorium and sports facilities below.
    The new library has provided a once in a generation move for the library team and opportunities for deeper integration within the College community and the curriculum. The former library building was a stand-alone facility on the edge of the RCSI campus, out of sight of, and distant from, the centre of College activities. While functional it lacked the variety of spaces to support anticipated curricula changes and the student engagement agenda.

    The goals for the new library were to create a vibrant, state of the art learning space, integrate the library service within the continuum of life-long and self-directed learning supports, be a showcase and access point for the full range of library services and use space as a change agent signifying that the library is much more than just a place.

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    De Krook Library

    De Krook Gent library building architecture design exterior view

    Ghent, 2017.

    In 2009 an architectural competition was organised for a public place with lots of space for reading, learning and living in the city. In this digital era, a city library’s role has changed. In a society which offers an abundance of information, there is a need to help people navigate the available knowledge. Where it used to be a place for sheer lending, now it needs to be a place for reading, learning and living. It is still an oasis of peace and quiet, with the same extensive collections, but it offers more cosy reading corners and quiet reading and study areas. It is also a place to meet people during lectures or debates, to develop skills in workshops, to experiment in the ‘maker’s lab’, to collaborate in research, to study and much more. There is a structural partnership with Ghent University and Imec Research and Development centre. The University gets opportunities to present its research to the outside world and involve visitors in academic activities. Imec brings innovation closer to the public, they strongly believe that innovation with a positive impact on society can only be achieved if companies, the research world, citizens and the government join forces.

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    Archives de Bordeaux Métropole

    Archives Bordeaux archive building architecture design interior view

    Bordeaux, 2015.

    The project is situated on the right bank of the River Garonne, which is traditionally cut off from the city centre, but currently part of a large-scale urban planning project.The new wing and the renovated hall, defines the dimensions of the forecourt, ensuring it remains open. This public space renders the city archives and its services more visible, inviting people who are unaccustomed to frequenting this building to come inside. The workspaces are arranged around the garden so everyone can enjoy a relaxing, unobstructed view.The former warehouse is now home to the archives and the reading room, which is consistent with its original use. The reception desk, exhibition galleries, conference and meeting rooms are on the ground floor of the new perpendicular wing. The offices and workshops are on the upper levels, which are only accessible to employees.

    You can visit it here.

    Montserrat Abelló Library

    Biblioteca Montserrat Abello Barcelona library building architecture design interior view

    Barcelona, 2018

    The project aspired, as a public library, to be a center of access to information, to guarantee the democratization of culture and knowledge, to be a center of social integration, promotion of reading, longlife-learning, self-learning and, at the same time, a leisure space. But it aspired to do so by giving prominence to users over the presence of the collection. Open spaces were needed for activities, and also flexible furniture, that would allow changes in the use of the space.

    As for the collection, the exhibition space was increased, in specific and attractive funiture, to the detriment of high density shelves accessible to users.

    A space for young audiences was differentiated, self-service, spaces for group work were promoted, as well as audiovisual equipment to allow videoconferencing and streaming screenings.

    You can visit it here.

    Freiburg University Library

    Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg Albert-Ludwigs-Universität university library building architecture design exterior view

    Freiburg, 2015.

    The number of study spaces available was to be vastly increased, and a much more diversified and differentiated study and research environment planned. Quiet study spaces in the reading rooms and the access to the open stacks on the one hand were to be kept strictly separate from the necessarily louder and livelier group work areas and learning lounges (called “Parlatorium”) on the other.

    The new building was also required to be capable of operating 24/7 and to provide an RFID-driven self-service infrastructure backed by a corresponding media transport system. At the same time, the area for the open stacks was to be increased by the conversion of the erstwhile underground car park. Last but not least, the building had to provide enough capacity to absorb one of the larger faculty libraries.

    You can visit it here.