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PRAGUE LIBRARY

OCEAN NORTH and Scheffler + Partner

National library & Archives
International competition
Prague, Czech Republic, 2006

coordination: Michael Hensel & Achim Menges
design team: Andrea Di Stefano, Aleksandra Jaeschke, Steinar Killi, Eva Scheffler, Birger Sevaldson, Defne Sunguroğlu with Guillem Barraut, Mattia Gambardella, Pavel Hladik, Gabriel Sanchiz
engineering: Bollinger & Grohmann Consulting Engeneers
landscape: Thom Roelly

 

The new National Library seeks to achieve a singular monolithic appearance for one of the key buildings of Czech culture, as well as a continuous and gradient spatial experience of the surrounding landscape. The building is organised in three distinct, but interconnected volumes that together form a very large tree-like form. The central volume constitutes the trunk, which organises a smooth connection between Milady Horákové Avenue and Letenské park. The volumes shift to organise the directions of approach and circulation, as well as to frame key views across the site and the city.
The tree-like spatial and tectonic scheme is reflected in the programmatic and circulatory organisation of the National Library: the trunk is formed by the body of the National Archive and the public and office functions branch out as cantilevering volumes. Public space is articulated both as a continuous public landscape around the trunk of the tree, sheltered by its branches, and as a treehouse, granting spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Through an analytic computational procedure, the stress distribution within the envelop of the cantilevering volumes is evaluated and mapped as a vector field of principal forces. According to this structural information, combined with other parameters such as for istance the angle of incident of sunlight, view axes and spatial characteristics, a network of merging branches is derived and develeoped into a structural envelope.
This tree-like structure provides minimum footprint and maximum inhabitable volume with a high material economy.

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