Archinect
Michael Bellefeuille

Michael Bellefeuille

Cambridge, MA, US

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Ground Floor Plan & Street Elevation
Ground Floor Plan & Street Elevation
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FHTW Bibliotek

This project was completed in autumn 2007 as part of a comprehensive studio consisting of the total design of a library and dining hall for a small engineering college in Berlin.

Design Statement

The primary influence for the design of the FHTW Bibliotek is the prevalent system of boundaries, walls and entrances forming the principle elements in the forecourt and surrounding buildings of the campus; most obvious among these being the wall that surrounds the campus.  Because these boundaries are so predominant, the openings in them become especially important and easily recognizable, creating a counterpoint in the system.

The library design consists of two distinguishable elements: one, a strong, heavy box recalling the existing buildings, which abuts the street and forms as formidable a mass as any on the campus, and the other, an elegant wrapper that peels away from the box as it moves from the street, around the forecourt and toward a small grove of trees.  The former is obviously influenced by the strength of the existing walls and structures on the campus, and completes the urban wall along the street.   It honors its context through extensive allusions to the neo-gothic elements of the existing buildings, principally through its vertical windows, fingers of mass extending between them, and its discernible block construction.  Conversely, the wrapper  is transparent, airy and delicate--a glass box draped with a thin, rust-colored wire mesh, whose receptiveness to light recalls the leafy grove adjacent to the forecourt, but whose glass-enclosed ground level offers a special harmony of barrier and transgression.  The glass creates a physical barrier between the forecourt and underutilized grove, but retains and emphasizes their visual connection.  Through its program as a dining space and building lobby, the glass enclosure creates a heightened nearness between the two outdoor spaces, thus fostering a greater likelihood of movement between and use of the two.  The box , then, can be understood as an addition to the traditional building type of the campus, whereas the wrapper  represents something new: both wall and entrance, barrier and transgression.

The project is heavily informed by the existing campus, with the proportions, materials, aesthetics, massing, siting and layout all determined with respect thereto.  So too is the unifying concept of barriers and transgressions, and the relationship of two opposing elements contextually derived.  Within the building are further layers of distinction, such as that between what is structural building  and infill furniture , the former being treated with concrete and other heavier materials, and the latter with maple veneer, the same rust-colored wire mesh used on the exterior, and other light materials.  As such, the idea of walls and entrances taken from the existing campus is reinterpreted and fully incorporated into the design from the conceptual whole to precise detailing, with care taken to ensure that though rigorously implemented, the concept never hinders the pragmatic nature of the design nor burdens the users of the project.
 
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Status: School Project
Location: Berlin, Germany

 
Upper Floor Plans
Upper Floor Plans
Model photos
Model photos
Exterior renderings
Exterior renderings
Details
Details

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