Authors: Miguel A. Alonso de Val, Rufino J. Hernández Minguillón. Competition Date: 1994. Awards: 4th award. Publications: Arquitectos. CSCAE nº 90, Madrid 1995.
This project to extend Edinburgh’s Public Library aims to create an interior world of open and closed spaces, reminiscent of a non-existent urban layout, capable of creating a wide variety of settings and a multiplicity of user levels that integrate the old building as yet another piece of the whole in which all its representative character is retained but its functional protagonism is ceded to a renewed concept of public facilities:
The proposal recreates the mediaeval layout of old Edinburgh through volumes developed at different heights that create gaps and passages between them.
An image of a library as the sum of specialist libraries supported by a resistant and collective structure that links the old and new rooms. The decision to free up the access floor makes the new facility a social condenser, which is completed with the incorporation of transparent shutters on the north and south façades which permit the opening up of broad transversal views from the interior reading spaces towards the urban landscape. Each department is organised on the basis of the dialogue between the drop-off boxes and the consultation platforms. A relationship that becomes specific for each library in such a way that the whole resembles a condensed structure of multiple functions that, ultimately, break the glass box of the reading space to create a broken profile of volumes integrated into the hillside of this gothic city. A strategy that aims to overcome a dual complex of rejection and submission to historic architecture, through a strong and serene dialogue of opaque volumes and glass skins in which the internal values of architecture are capable of embracing external attitudes.