A Bookshelf as Living Room: Public Library by Dietrich Untertrifaller
Client: Stadt Dornbirn
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller Architekten mit Christian Schmoelz
Project management: Peter Nußbaumer, Christopher Braun
Location: Schulgasse 44, 6850 Dornbirn (AT)
The oval volume lies much like an erratic block between its neighbouring rectangular houses in the vicinity of Dornbirn’s market square, and can be accessed on two sides, namely from Schulgasse and the parallel Jahngasse. During opening hours, people can trace where a former popular footpath by taking a short cut through the library’s double-height atrium.
The curtain layer containing the symbolical bookshelf made up of 8,000 ceramic batons provides the wood/aluminium windows of the storey-high glazing not only with fixed shading but also filters views to the surrounding park.
The building’s curved shape can only be experienced on the inside at the reading spots arranged along the outer walls of the open-access library on the ground and upper floor. A two-storey atrium is cut out of the volume, forming a rectangular space provided natural light by skylights that flood it with sunshine when the weather is fine. Like the atrium, the rooms grouped around it are strictly orthogonal in shape, and have walls and ceilings in the plain look of smooth fair-faced concrete. A homely feel is created by flooring and interior finishing work in oak. Indeed, the building is conceived as a living room for all generations.
In addition to books in paper form, the library also offers multimedia facilities to encourage young and older readers to get to know the latest in digital communication technologies in a playful way.
Extensive offerings can be accessed on the sublevel floor, where a multimedia library, a games library and makerspace are all situated. Sound-absorbing deep-pile carpeting in a loamy hue covers the ceilings and floors on this level. For the older generation, round sitting areas let into the floor of the media lounge bring the pop art interiors of the seventies to mind.