International Competition, Finalist
with Holzer Kobler Architekturen

Client: National Library of the Czech Republic
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Date: 2006-2007

The National Library of the Czech Republic embodies the written heritage of the Czech culture, standing for its past, present and future. The architectural and spatial concept of the new library is generated through the interaction between the two main containers of books – the National Archive and the Universal Collection – and the exterior membrane, which encloses the two elements and houses all the library’s public spaces.

The National Archive stands at the center of the library. As if growing from the bedrock, the monolithic tower turns in an ascending movement toward the city of Prague. As a counterweight, the Universal Collection is housed in a two-story horizontal volume, organized like a letter case, floating above the ground. The public facilities of the library are located below and above this bar-shaped volume. These areas are designed as a continuous space modulated by the external skin of the building.

The external envelope functions as a climatic and acoustic skin. Its permeability and transparency adapts to the different programmatic conditions: completely transparent at the top, punctuated with skylights over the reading rooms, arranged with operable windows in the offices, and serving as a permeable membrane at the ground floor.

This extraordinary space formed by the merging of the two volumes can be experienced by ascending the stair leading to the exhibition and viewing platform on top of the National Archive. The dynamic skyline of the National Library engages with the distinct gothic and baroque spires of this World Heritage Site, underlining its importance as an attractive destination of national and international significance.

Project Partners:
– Holzer Kobler Architekturen, Zurich
– Arup, Berlin
– Arup, Moscow
– hhpberlin Fire safety engineers, Berlin

Renderings, Model photos:
© Nau2