Natural light opens the ‘Kulturbaum’ toward embracing its traditional context.
BRESSANONE (IT) - A team of three young architects has won the international competition for the new civic library of Bressanone (German: Brixen). An ancient city located about 50 kilometres south of the Brenner Pass, on the Italian-Austrian border, it is known as the artistic and cultural capital of the region. Selected from among 166 entries last October, 'Kulturbaum', the project by Michel Carlana (1980), Luca Mezzalira (1982) and Curzio Pentimalli (1982), relies on the contextual concerns of its site in the old city centre to manifest its own identity. Close to the cathedral and adjoined by pre-existing structures, the new library's contemporary form utilizes materials and light in a sensitive manner, optimizing its function as a protective archive as well as effortlessly blending into the historical urban surroundings. (Dutton R. Hauhart)
The project of a public building, inside the traditional historical centre nearby the cathedral dome, is related to the numerous questions bound to the importance of the site. The need to identify the library with the site leads to the inner characteristics of the site itself that is translated into the development of punctual architectural thoughts regarding the bow windows, porch and steep pitches. These rediscovered traces and characteristics became the genesis elements of the design process. The concept of the building is inspired by the shape of a tree. It lays itself next to the two pre-existing buildings and their contact turns into walking points.
The context's mimesis also finds its nature through the contemporary reinterpretation of the local technique and materials. The final feature of the new building is the result of a controlled growth of the mass, which contracts and deforms itself inside the space. Far from the idea of the library as a self-referential system, it adapts itself as a sensitive organism and it tries to find morphological and functional solutions for the site. Interiors and exteriors exchange themselves, in an environment where space and light play a leader role.
Natural light represents one of the most important aspects for a library, as it influences heavily both its proper use and the maintenance of the material inside: books. Direct light is a great enemy for books; as a consequence it must be controlled in order to avoid any damage of paper. As the southern facade has no interesting view, it becomes a completely blind wall, which does not receive sunrays indoors. Walls are also used as a 'curtain wall of books' that becomes the manifesto of the library as 'box of knowledge'.
In order to admire the most interesting elements offered by the urban landscape, huge bow windows have been set to create an intimate space. Looking at the fast mutations and the growing needs of our society, the project tried to make the space of the public building more and more flexible and easily changeable. Far from the classical organization and display of the furniture, the new building has a system of double shell that has all kinds of services inside, completely releasing the inner space from any functional obligation. With its growth and changes through the times, the needs of the contemporary library find a possible way out with this solution.
Friday | 4 March | 2011 | Italy | Michel Carlana, Luca Mezzalira, Curzio Pentimalli