The idea behind this project was simple and symbolic at the same time: books, the essence of knowledge, communication and cultural tradition. As the function of a public library requires, it is open to everyone – and that is why the shape of a transparent cube, a shining body at night has been chosen. As if books follow the precept of the first Lithuanian book inviting “take me and read me”…
Public libraries remain important cultural centres and spaces of gathering for local communities in smaller towns of Lithuania, and A. and M. Miškinis Public Library in Utena is definitely one of such cases. After complete reconstruction it grew up to become a three-storied building; its area was enlarged up to more than 3,100 square meters; the whole technological infrastructure was changed. However the scope of extension was restricted by the proximity of the central park and small-scale residential buildings nearby. The reconstruction assignment was to develop a modern and rational structure of the building with maximum use of space to meet the needs of the community, thus beside exhibition and depository spaces, a conference centre, an exhibition hall, a children literature section, a section for periodicals, the mediatheque, individual working places with access to the Internet and other spaces needed to be accommodated.
As reading is the primary purpose of the building, the architects have designed a sculptural exterior and by surrounding the faςade with blinds they have suggested the image and rhythm of books lying on shelves. Inside, the space at the entrance stretches throughout the whole building – there are almost no doors and no but glass walls. The powerful atrium up to glass ceilings is filled with light and air and creates a sense of openness and freedom. Ramps that have replaced traditional stairs perform the function of a vertical link between six levels of the building and also make it accessible to disabled people and families with small kids. Ramps framed with black railings against the background of glass become a strong detail implying incessant movement while the use of black-and-white reminds the colouring of printed texts. Some details of orange grasp attention in otherwise grey and colourless glass space – beside providing information they also give the feeling of life and cosiness. The library’s technical infrastructure meets international standards: the system is computerized and the virtual dimension of the library exits invisibly next to bookshelves. This library being dedicated to prominent Lithuanian cultural figures, brothers Antanas and Motiejus Miškiniai, excerpts from A.Miškinis’ poems are to be found on inner walls of the library.
The construction structure of the building itself is an important element in the concept of the interior. The interior, as well as the exterior is united in the use of natural materials: concrete, wood, metal, and glass. The building is not a container of a specific function, but an active component of the environment. All details yield to the theme of laconic and brutally primitive design. While the project was being put into life, the initial idea of colourful books was changed into more quiet and sophisticated palette of grey-black, which permits to focus on books and visitors; this intensifies the idea of the House of Books, which fosters a sense of community.