OMA investigate the future of libraries with new cultural hub for Caen

The cross-shaped building marks this central location between the old city and the new, and is a symbol for an institution deeply invested in the future of Caen
– Chris van Duijn, OMA Partner

International architecture studio OMA have continued their longstanding fascination with libraries as physical public spaces in an increasingly digital world with the opening of the Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville in Caen, France.

The new public library for the Normandy commune opened to the public on January 13. Located at the intersection of the city's historic core and an area of redevelopment, the 12,500sq m multimedia building is an important new community space.

Designed in collaboration with Rotterdam’s Barcode Architects, the library features a cross-shaped floorplan that responds to the surroundings, with four protruding planes pointing to four separate urban landmark.

“This completion marks the beginning of a larger transformation within Caen,” said OMA Partner Chris van Duijn. “The library pivots from the historical centre to the new urban master plan, stretching from city to sea. The cross-shaped building marks this central location between the old city and the new, and is a symbol for an institution deeply invested in the future of Caen.”

The main public space of the library is its lifted panoramic reading room, which has been designed to maximise views of the cityscape. Floor-to-ceiling load bearing glass façade panels enhance the openness and transparency of the reading room, creating a column-free space in which visitors can make an obstacle-free journey between the library's four different sectors – centred around human sciences, science and technology, literature, and the arts. The amount of space and panoramic views increase the building’s appeal as a new social space for Caen.

In addition to 120,000 physical documents stored in the library, a digital extension of the physical collection has been integrated into the bookshelves, as OMA future-proof the facility in response to the continuing digitalisation of media and information.

OMA have previously built the Très Grande Bibliothèque (1989), the Two Libraries for Jussieu (1992), the Seattle Central Library (2004) and the Qatar National Library, which will be completed in 2017.

The studio has enjoyed a busy few months, completing new cultural buildings in London, Miami and Quebec and received planning approval for the Factory arts hub in Manchester.

OMA  Caen  Normandy  France  libraries  architecture  design 
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International architecture studio OMA have continued their longstanding fascination with libraries as physical public spaces in an increasingly digital world with the opening of the Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville in Caen, France. The new public library for the Normandy commune opened to the public on January 13. Located at the intersection of the city's historic core and an area of redevelopment, the 12,500sq m multimedia building is an important new
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Large glass widows and column-free interiors create a feeling of openness and transparency / Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA
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