Biblioteka miejska

City library in a historic villa. The complex was extended with a contemporary part

The municipal library is located at the crossroads connecting housing estates, schools, bus stops and a polyclinic on the one hand and the primary art school and the city centre on the other. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Rožnov pod Radhoštěm municipal park and the main traffic artery. The newly designed public space in front of the library tidies up the area and creates an aesthetically pleasing entrance to the cultural complex.

For many years, the library has been not only the town’s reading centre, but also a local meeting place for civic meetings, informal education, and the organisation of various cultural and social activities. Its activities contribute significantly to building civil society. In its activities, it is not a solitary island, but a partner that cooperates with numerous local associations, organisations, schools, institutions as well as individuals. Her remit extends beyond the city limits: she methodically manages seven libraries in the municipalities of the micro-region.

Biblioteka miejska

Adequate new storage space for library collections has also changed visitors’ perception of the library as merely a repository for books. It is above all a place where they can seek advice, find inspiration, sit down and relax with a book in hand. After six months of operation, the number of registered users has increased by almost 20 per cent. By organising a variety of cultural and educational programmes for all age groups, the city library has become a point of attraction for all residents.

Biblioteka miejska

The ČTYŘSTĚN architectural office designed the new library in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, winning an open architectural competition in 2016. Its aim was to increase the capacity of the old town library, as the usable space of the historic villa was insufficient for the educational programmes and other activities that a modern facility should carry out. The extension creates a transition between a brand new public space on the street corner and the garden, acting as a representative entrance to the library. The roles of the extension and the villa have therefore been reversed. The new block has become the main space, meeting the requirements of a modern library with a café and lecture rooms. The villa now serves primarily adult readers – as a reading room and library administration facilities.

As a result, the new building and the old villa have a significantly different interior character. The new building is contemporary and spacious, with a glass façade opening onto the garden. It is designed for new releases, children’s books, a café, as well as lectures and workshops. Tall wooden shelves are incorporated into the walls, while movable low shelving keeps the interior clear and adaptable to current needs. Along the glass façade, reading areas with chairs for adults have been placed, children hide with their books in the nooks and crannies of the shelves, and toddlers climb in the fenced “sandbox”. Thanks to the different heights of the shelves, tables and seating elements, there is a place for every age group.

The interior of the villa, on the other hand, is traditional. It has a more intimate feel, with tall shelves in blue and green and reading nooks in the bay windows. It is reminiscent of a labyrinth with the atmosphere of old bookshops. In the central area, a new opening in the ceiling with a suspended chandelier connects the floors, inviting visitors upstairs. At the original entrance, a new glass bay window provides a view of the space in front of the library. These treatments have transformed the building from a somewhat dated villa into a true and modern public building.

An important aspect contributing to the appearance of the extension is its very low energy consumption. This forms the basis of the combination of structural and technological elements used in the design. The green roof reduces overheating and improves rainwater retention. The overhang of the roof passively shades the glass façade on the west side, and the façade itself is made of very high quality triple argon-filled glass. Heating and cooling is provided by a ground source heat pump with three boreholes under the building. To cool the building in the summer months, pipes are routed in the ceiling.

Biblioteka miejska

On the one hand, this allowed complete freedom in the arrangement of the furniture, but on the other hand, it required a technical approach and the use of vertical acoustic elements – baffles. This gives the interior a certain regular rhythm, repeated in the vertical façade beams and the regular division of shelves along the walls. The extension was designed as a reinforced concrete frame with steel columns and masonry with insulating infill. The main material used in the interior is pine panelling, referring to traditional foothills buildings. In the new part, the wood is natural, with white and yellow accents, while in the old villa it was painted in a striking blue-green colour. The furniture and floors are kept simple, while books and bold armchair accents add colour to the interiors.

Author: Karol Kubza
Co-authors: Milan Joja, Tomáš Págo
Design team: Nikola Korábová, Martina Fojtíková, Marek Holán
Project location: Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Czech Republic
Year of completion: 2023
Photographer: BoysPlayNice

Read also: Czech Republic | Metamorphosis| Wood | Glass | Interesting facts | Monument

Subject: City library in a historic villa. The complex was extended with a contemporary part

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