Philology Library Berlin
JRM2 04 - 04 - 2010

In Germany a small group of us traveled out to a university on the outskirts of Berlin to visit Norman Foster's library. The library is located inside a courtyard of an old brick building. From the brick building looking into the courtyard, the exterior of the library looks like a white and yellow muscle clinging to each side of the courtyard. Where the library touches the courtyard there are entrances to the library. One entrance is for the public and students, and the other is for those that work in the library. When you enter the library it feels extremely open. It feels like the floor slabs of the library are floating inside a giant "moon walk". The floor slabs curve inward to create a sort of atrium and circulation space along the main axis. Even through the floor slabs line up, the outer rim of the slabs waver and create small overlooks to floors below (Right). The translucent fabric that raps the bubble looking form provides a perfect amount of diffused light for reading. This prevents glare on books and the overheating of the upper spaces. The design of the library is inspired by a droplet of water sitting on a smooth surface. The double skin fabric cuts off all views to the outside, but since it is inside a courtyard, there is not much to see or you would be looking in other classroom windows which would be distracting for studying. The way the double skin of the library works is the sun heats up the south side of the library and it is kept between the two skins. The during the winter, the heat can be used to heat or insulate the building. In the summer, the heat rises up and is let out of a hatch at the top of the lirary. Hatches around the lower part of the library are controlled by a computer to open and close the correct amount to let cool air up into the building and double skin. The library uses good daylighting, the double skin system, and an open interior in a small existing courtyard . These combinations make the library a very sucessful project for the university, students, and visitors.S

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