1995 (competition winning project)
Am Königswall, City of
Libraries today lament a loss of identity linked not only to the introduction of new technologies but also to a nineteenth-century heritage that they have never been able to shed and that binds them increasingly to the image of static container unsuitable for satisfying society's demands. Botta's idea here is to stress the public dimension of the new building, so he divides the complex into two distinct parts. It is situated next to the railway station, and stands as a symbol of the city. The layout develops as a rigid, linear body, almost a solid wall, and opposite, a transparent, truncated cone is the library's reading room. The façade of the large tower volume is broken at regular intervals by slender vertical openings in contrast with the strong, solid image of the parallelepiped. The double glazed "skin" of the reading room is structured by a skeleton of steel elements, like the tie-beams of a circus tent, that support by means of tension the flat roofing surface. The interior image allows a glimpse of the distribution of paths on the two floors that house the reading rooms, consulting rooms, computer rooms. Inside, a network of vertical paths link the different levels and suspended glass bridges join the rooms with other spaces carved in the more solid linear body. Thus, the contrast between the two volumes and the different nuances of the materials create a very strong tension running through the two distinct images. The entrance at the back of the semicircular room stands at the center of a covered path that separates the two buildings. Proceeding upwards, the levels of the circular-shaped building are progressively recessed, so that a series of terraces allow a more uniform diffusion of the light in the interiors. This also creates a net separation between the library building and the rest of the complex. The striking impact of the whole complex also derives from the formal contrast between the two volumes, the urban site and the interplay between calm rows of identical windows and the pattern of the stone slabs to the facades. The new
library site stands as a symbol for the reconstruction of memory and the development of the future, thus re-conquering its role as a point of reference in the culture and traditions of man.