A few weeks ago we were discussing on Twitter how OMA has developed several innovations in cultural and educational buildings. The Wyly Theater (in partnership with REX), the Seattle Public Library, and on projects such as the MNBAQ extension or the West Kowloon Cultural District master plan. Today we got the news that OMA has won the competition for a new regional library (Bibliothèque Multimédia à Vocation Régionale) in Caen, France. The 12,000m2 project will be OMA’s first cultural building in France, and was led by associate-in-charge Clément Blanchet.
The new library, located at the tip of Caen’s peninsula, includes four protruding wings that point towards four of the city’s landmarks: the abbeys Abbaye-aux-Dames in the north and Abbaye-aux-Hommes in the east; the central train station to the south; and the site of proposed future developments in the west. The library consists of two intersecting reading rooms, which encourage maximum interface between the programmed disciplines: human sciences, science and technology, literature, and the arts. “Instead of having four distinct areas linked by bridges, space is structured along two intersecting axes, creating a space of confluence for both knowledge and people.” - Clément Blanchet
In the exterior spaces created by these intersecting reading rooms, the library interacts with its surroundings, opening up to a park, pedestrian pathway and waterfront plaza. Large windows span the height of the reading room and provide natural light. With dynamic views onto Caen and a simultaneous internal transparency, the building is an observatory of knowledge. It encourages the contemplation of the urban or cultural landscape, even as it serves the library’s traditional role as a space for reading, studying, and interacting with other users.
The design’s sustainable approach responds to local climactic conditions to ensure energy efficiency. Shallow floor plans maximise available natural light, creating the ideal reading environment crucial to a library.