Carles Rahola Public Library
Title: Carles Rahola Public Library
Location: Girona, Spain
Office: Mario Corea Arquitectura
Authors: Mario Corea, Lluís Moran, Sebastián Guerrico
Category: Collective Places
Photos: Pepo Segura, Marc Torra-Fragments
The library is located in the center of Girona embedded in a dense neighborhood of tall housing blocks. This urban condition—as well as the fact that this is the largest in the network of public libraries in Catalonia—contributed to a design concept based on two main considerations. First, given its public role the decision was made to differentiate the library from the surrounding residential fabric both in form and materials. Secondly, while the building responds to the new programmatic challenges of the contemporary library as a dynamic place for civic activities and social interaction, it also reclaims its traditional role as a place for reading and quiet reflection. Visitors enter from the public plaza into the reception hall that leads to the children’s library and the spaces for community activities. On the upper two floors there are reading rooms and specialized areas with the administration in the basement level. In addition to allowing for fluid circulation, the central staircase is a key element for understanding the spatial continuity inside the library, which is organized around three landscaped courtyards. While the transparent glass walls transform these courtyards into small gardens that are extensions of the interior spaces, each one assumes its own identity. The sustainable aspects are also an integral part of the design concept with the incorporation of active and passive strategies including: maximizing sunlight, industrialized construction and use of recycled materials, the bioclimatic façade of double U-Glass, a ventilated roof and green patios and walls.
Libraries are places where people gather together to study and to learn, to think and to share. In this sense, it is one of the great collective spaces that provide a civic experience for all ages—young and old, students and retirees—to engage in a free exchange of knowledge and culture. New technologies and new ways of learning have resulted in changes in the role of the contemporary library. However, some aspects of the traditional library remain and this project addresses this dual reality by ensuring that it is a place for both community and contemplation. The principle protagonist is the light in its many variations. While the large open staircase articulates the spaces, the three courtyards organize the interior. The central courtyard acts as a funnel that illuminates the interior with an exuberant green wall and floating green platforms that extend over the four levels. Two smaller courtyards are located on the corners of the building. The square-shaped volume is glazed in U-Glass punctuated by sections of transparent glass, flooding the interior with a diffuse light comfortable for reading, while also framing views of the surrounding neighborhood. At night the library glows like a giant urban lantern, welcoming everyone to enter this place of knowledge, culture and community life.