Edward Williams Architects has designed a new municipal library for Klaipeda, a city in Lithuania.
The new public library will be located in the southern part of the city, an area with high population density and lacking public spaces for the community. The new Library will be an iconic public building and provide space for the community to gather.
In contrast to the massive Soviet apartment buildings, we proposed a transparent building, and circular form that makes a strong statement within the otherwise repetitive, perpendicular urban fabric. Our design positions the functional spaces around the perimeter of the library, so that visitors approaching from all directions see the activities taking place inside. This leaves flexible spaces at the core of the building for group activities.
The site can be thought of as divided into three parts, the new library will be set to one end, leaving two thirds for open-air public use. With the car park stretched alongside the plot, the outdoor area will be tarmac-free landscape. At the centre of the site, facing the library’s conference hall will be a sunken amphitheatre, and at the opposite end of the library, a sports facility with an athletics track and two basketball courts. By displacing the library building onto one side, space is prioritised for public realm; twice as much as the building’s footprint.
The library building consists of four circular levels with varying degrees of quiet and animated spaces: on the ground floor is a flexible hall, an exhibition space, the lecture hall which looks over the outdoor amphitheatre, as well as a café. The library is located on the upper two levels, connected at the core by an atrium and three pockets of double-height hollows which allow a gentle hum to permeate and sight-lines between them. One floor up again, a glazed hexagon provides space for reading as if out in the open, encircled by a rooftop garden with space for reading outdoors as well as areas for events. The central atrium will be covered with a lattice timber roof supported on the 3 vertical cores.
The façade is an active system made of double-glazed windows with timber blinds integrated at different points around the facade to control the solar gains, designed in response to a sunlight study. The glass façade and the central atrium create light-filled communal and relaxing spaces while direct sunlight reaching the library and study spaces is controlled.
The structure of the library consists of rings of prefabricated concrete elements for increased durability on the ground floor, changing to timber on the upper levels and roof structure. The need for multiple supporting columns is reduced by adding curvature to the radial concrete beams on the first level.
The building will have excellent environmental standards: the double skin façade, photovoltaic cells integrated in the roof, air-ground heat pumps, natural ventilation with mechanical assistance, and a heat recovery system will allow the space to moderate its internal conditions based on its outdoor environment.