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Photograph: Hervé Abbadie

Built around the tree: Media library in Bourg-la-Reine

In the centre of the city, the new library asserts itself near the town hall and the church. As if it had been folded, the massive structure turns in various directions and takes up the axes of its urban surroundings. The roof, which has various pitches and eaves heights, also gives a nod to neighbouring building styles. Clad in 80-mm-thick, dark-grey natural stone, this edifice makes a monolithic impression.

The sides facing the street present the building’s two different façade designs. The east side features floor-to-ceiling glazing and allows passers-by to look into the building. In contrast, the south façade is almost completely closed off. Only two incisions mark the structure, one of which is the main entrance to the library.

Inside, the reading rooms are distributed over two storeys. Upstairs, the run of the folded roof is clear and creates room heights reaching seven metres. On the ground floor, extensive glazing allows the interior space to meld with the outdoor area to the rear of the building. This is where the structure winds around the old walnut tree and becomes a courtyard-like reading area. Terraced wood patios and a stone bench surrounding the tree invite visitors to stay a while.

While the media library created by Pascale Guédot Architecte seems a bit closed off to the outside, the interior opens up onto bright spaces and spacious reading areas. In particular, the interior courtyard with its venerable tree forms a hidden, idyllic place in the city centre. In the summertime, it becomes an inviting open-air reading room.

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