Herzog & de Meuron

The University library will play a key role in the development of the campus, and hence of the whole city of Cottbus. As a communication centre, it will have to fulfill different scientific and social functions, and must therefore provide an appropriate, contemporary architectural expression. The proposed architecture is radically simple in organisation and construction, and uses state-of-the-art knowledge and experience in library material.

The information centre on the ground floor is conceived as a dual height warehouse-type space. The rest of the building is articulated around this great hall in the centre of the building. From which the library visitor immediately understands the range of different spaces he is surrounded by. The spaces are all directly visible and can thus be located easily. Above the information hall is the direct access library, which occupies two entire storeys. The arrangement of the reading and shelf zones is utterly flexible, like the division into three large zones—natural sciences, humanities and technical.

Three singular constructions with glazed roofs give the library building a specific architectural appearance. These glazed volumes have different functions inside the building. They penetrate the free loan area as lighting features and provide spatial order and orientation; in the reading area, they provide reflection-free daytime illumination while shedding light downwards through this area to the dual height information and entrance hall. The spatial organisation of the building is immediately perceived and understood, because these lighting items produce a similar effect inside the building to holes or slits through which one can look and be orientated.

The construction envelope is done in different types of glass panels: translucent, matt or transparent glass, mesh-stamped glass (silk-screen printing), zones of non-window glazing (areas of the library), and ventilation windows (administration zone). The glass panels around the building are also used as an outer layer for the heavy insulation walls that optimise energy consumption. The different functional zones of the library can be expressed directly and specifically via the differentiation of the proposed glazed surfaces.

Herzog & de Meuron, 1996




Land Brandenburg, Germany
Partner Architect (Master Plan): Kraemer Sieverts and Partner