A&S Architects
International Architectural Competition

NEW BUILDING OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC IN PRAGUE

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Β. Discourse between the two characters of the National Library
A constant dialogue between the public (open) and the controlled (closed) aspects of the National Library is being played out and evolves in relation to this interaction among the buildings and the transitional spaces between them.

C. Discourse between the complex and its broader context
Apart from being a carrier and recipient of the public aspect of the National Library, the south and southeast parts of the complex constitute a front where it meets and engages in osmosis with nature.
The individual spatial aspects of this area (namely an intense mobility in terms of shapes and inclined planes, with the voluminous forms of the building gradually fading in the aforementioned landscaped features, direct contact between the Café and the park’s open spaces, a panoramic view from the restaurant, as well as open promenade walkways laid out in conjunction with the above) make the building ‘reach out’ towards the park, and at the same time also signal to the park to ‘climb over’ the building.

  1. The structural composition of the central building

The overlap between the site and the underground tunnel dictates the large step-back of the underground parts of the building in relation to the above-ground ones. Therefore a structural form is sought that is able to achieve a cantilever with a maximum opening in the order of 30m (N-E corner).

The starting structural configuration is produced by pairs of long inclined reinforced concrete walls placed in parallel, leaning towards one another in such a way as to form what can be termed a series of repeated “Λ” configurations –when viewed in section-, with base openings of 22.00m (and with the top of the “Λ” configurations forming a linear opening allowing for natural light to flood in). Two such configurations, crossing one another at a 90° angle constitute the structural and spatial grid of the main building.

International Architectural Competition for the architectural design of
«The New Building of the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague»

The overall project is divided into two parts: an above-ground part (above the level +/-0.00) where the Acquisition Division, Bibliography & Cataloguing Division, Public Services, National Archival Collection (N.A.C.), and Parliament Library are located; and a three-storey underground part containing the Conservation Division Storages, auxiliary areas and the parking lot.

Α. Discourse between the National Library’s above-ground sections
The above-ground part consists of a complex of 3 buildings. Of these three, the dominant structure, both in terms of size and importance, is the central “trough-like” building1, what one might call the very core of the complex. It is via this building that the par excellence spatial ambience of the library develops and it is inside it that its par excellence destinations are arranged: the Main Library Hall, the General Reference Services and the Reading Rooms. A major part of the central building (its N-E quadrant) is dedicated to secure safeguarding of the National Library’s “ark”, that is to say the N.A.C., which is symbolically highlighted.
Two satellite buildings surround the central building.

Along its perimeter, these “Λ” terminate in such a way as to form a lightweight skin (in the form of glazing with external louvers or a pierced concrete façade, as appropriate) with a pronounced outward slope. Thus, large cantilevers are achieved without using specialised technologies, both to address the aforementioned special feature on the north side of the plot, and to ensure that the central building is given a characteristic silhouette overall: that of an inverted truncated pyramid or “trough-like” construction.

 

The constituents of the fabric comprising this structural grid, apart from the primary “Λ” aisle, are square-based pyramids (standing straight or inverted), inverted square-based truncated pyramids and regular tetrahedrons. Intermittent slabs forming the building’s floors (positioned every 4.00m), work as tractors tying together the diverging plates of the inverted pyramids, especially in the 3 corners (NW, NE, SE).

The character of a “receptacle”, par excellence associated with and expressing the notion of the library, permeates and marks all the spaces created by the configurations and transformations of this pyramidal structural rhythm, from the most elementary ones to the integrated whole of  the “trough-like” central building.

 

Cooperation with the architects P. Kokkori, G. Rozos and M. Tzortzi

a complex of 3 buildings
a constant dialogue between the public
meets and engages in osmosis with nature