University Library in Berlin
The new Philological Library at the Free University of Berlin’s Dahlem site completes the renovation and restructuring programme of this 1973 complex, originally an open, flexible design with a deliberately un-monumental appearance. The library, which brings together the stocks of 11 different institutes, was built within the existing complex, at the wish of the client. Its bubble-shaped volume now stands as a separate building on the site of two former courtyards. It is connected to the adjacent buildings via two coloured lock-like gates. The library’s double-skinned shell is supported on a prefabricated tubular-steel space frame. Silver aluminium panels alternate with double-glazed windows on the outside, while a skin of white fibreglass covers most of the inside. This material softens the incoming daylight, diffusing it evenly through the space to create a calm, concentrated atmosphere. In the interior the various cantilevered floor decks stack up in the centre, accommodating bookshelves and providing space along their curved parapets for 600 reading desks. A light ditch surrounds the lower ground floor for better illumination. To keep the curve of the shell flat, the load-bearing frame is supported on the concrete cores either side of the central, open staircase.