ArchitectsCarlos de Riaño Lozano
From the architect. The library lies in a significantly rectangular plot, surrounded by apartment buildings of no architectural importance. The front façade overlooks the Paseo de Extremadura and a row of trees acts as a thin protection barrier against the incessant traffic flow.
The site barely determined the design; neither the urban landscape nor the buildings set any patterns. The aggressive environment seemed to lead to an architecture focused on the interiors.
It is a neighborhood library, with a detailed program previously developed by the city’s cultural authorities, which established the approximate surfaces of the different rooms.
Libraries of this size work best with two floors and therefore it was necessary to build two levels above the ground. The surface had to be extended with a third underground level to house the utilities and the garage.
The rectangular volume fits in the available plot and the main access is from Granja de Torrehermosa Street, facing the northwest and the Paseo de Extremadura. The users, once they have gone through security, find themselves in a lobby directly connected with:
- Newspapers and magazines.
- Children’s and young adults’ library.
- Information and loan.
- Meeting hall.
- 24/7 study room.
This last room has an independent access and remains open when the library is closed.
The above-mentioned rooms are distributed along the perimeter of the floor with windows on the four façades.
We intended to avoid the view of the impersonal environment that surrounds the building, so we introduced a series of courtyards between the northeast and southwest façades and the streets, in order to limit the perspective from the inside. The courtyards may be used for certain activities of the children’s library.
From the lobby, spacious enough to hold exhibitions and new book presentations, a staircase or an elevator lead to the top floor and to the most symbolic space, the main section.
The hallways of both floors act as an element that divides the different purposes and groups them together in two sections, especially on the first floor, where the rest area, the librarian office, the meeting hall and the restrooms are placed along the southwest façade.
The main book section occupies the other subdivisions, facing the northwest, northeast and southeast. This room was carefully designed. It receives sunlight all around the outer perimeter, which seems to contradict the traditional light from the north assigned to libraries. We have taken advantage of the large variety of sunlight-controlling glass as a filter with two aims: to avoid the direct impact of sunlight and to act as a translucent screen from the environment. The room consists of two long sections, one accessible to the users with bookshelves and multimedia equipment, and a second one on the upper floor, flooded with sunlight, made of two panes, the inner one with big transparent glass plates and the outer one with screen-printed glass in vertical straps, leveled with the white concrete outer walls, with the same layout that the books on the shelves. The separation between two glass panes allows using the space as maintenance area.
In the northeast façade the first floor is setback in relation to the ground floor. The first structure is uncovered and creates a courtyard with three windows from the main section of the library. We have followed the same principle as in the lower rooms to protect it from the views.
The communications module is on top of the two-level white box that we have described. The air conditioning units are on its roof, hidden by the white concrete panes and a horizontal latticework. This way clear and clean roofs can be seen from the nearby taller buildings.
The project is complete with an underground floor with a garage for fifteen vehicles, space to load and unload maintenance rooms, and staff locker-rooms and restrooms. The access to the upper levels is through a restricted use staircase for the three floors.