University Library, Fribourg

University and cantonal library,
Fribourg, Switzerland

Atelier Kempe Thill Architects and Planners have won the third plsce in the open international competition for the refurbishment and extension of the University and Cantonal Library Fribourg, Suisse. 65 architects firms had participated in the competition.

The present library is located in a neo - baroque building from 1910 that encloses a large and beautiful garden. The competition brief asked for the extension of the library of more than the double size of its actual floor surface as well as an entirely new organizational and spatial concept. The library has been largely devastated in its original spatial set - up and its appearance towards the garden during a refurbishment and a pragmatic extension in the garden during the late seventies of the twentieth century. The design of Atelier Kempe Thill takes therefore as starting point the consequent demolishment of the utilitarian extension and the refurbishment of the original neo - baroque spatial concept and façade towards the garden. The new building is for that reason conceived mainly as a generous underground extension with archive, reading places and information desks.

The existing garden is realized anew on the roof of the new underground building and gets a public character by consequently restoring the neo - baroque façade. Spatial heart forms an enormous oval lecture hall that demonstrates the size of the new library, and creates at the same time a strong link with the spatial themes of the original building. The oval hall is covered by an oval dome consisting in its lower part out of a ring of concrete that is combined with a central oval roof light. This roof light with its length of about 18 m and its width of about 12 m is produced out of one single piece of an opaque acrylic glass dome. From the inside the dome appears like the repetition of the sky outside. Because of its great scale and its light appearance the dome gives monumentality and tranquility to the enclosed space that stimulates concentrated reading. In the garden the dome appears as a decent and at the same time central and binding element that is surrounded by the footpaths and plants.




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