Cale sèche – Public Library - MangerNielsenArchitects

Cale sèche – Public Library

Morlanwelz – Civic library and public space – Competition, second prize //

To design and build a public library today is not limited to the study of the building itself, it asks for a commitment to its urban context. The relationship between the library and the public space is a decisive process. For the Morlanwelz Library, we take the opportunity to create a new large public square in front of the library. The network of public squares of Morlanwelz is completed and a new public space redefines the urban fabric, here in the outskirts of Morlanwelz.

The building is located in the lower third of the parcel. In doing so, it transcends the residual plot and defines qualitative spaces around him: the new public square and the reading garden. The project defines specifics relationships between the building and the differentiated outdoor spaces.

The image of the library
The library is a public building. The image it conveys is the first content it offers. Its materiality has an important role in the construction of this image: the expression of its architecture, its visibility in public space, its scale, its location, its shape and facades materials, its openings.

Familiar and unexpected
The strong link between the new square and the library will encourage attendance. Some users would stop by chance, others to borrow a book or check the internet, others simply because the space of the city is prolonged inside the new building. This idea we called it « the value of the call » in reference to the ship’s call in a harbor. It must be supported by a subtle definition of the building scale: The building must assert its collective value without destroying the scale of its context. This is what led us to imagine a building that is both familiar and unexpected in its form and in its proportions.

Pushing the door of the library
The different areas of the project offer a mediation between visitor and cultural objects: public outdoor space, indoor informal and uncontrolled and, finally, the space of the library itself. Reading garden, semi- public interior spaces, dedicated training rooms and individual reading tables are organized around a structural element: the « dry dock ». All the books are stored in the “dry dock”.
We have simplified at all levels the transition from one space to another. Pushing the door of the library must become a natural and spontaneous gesture.

This project was developed with Atelier De Visscher & Vincentelli