Magdeburg, Germany, is the place where you can visit and admire the Open Air Library. With a budget of $325,000 Euros, the library was built on a surface of 488 square meters. The project started in2005, when residents of an abandoned district centre in East Germany used crates to build a district library and donated books filled the shelves of the former district library’s site. KARO Architekten were commissioned to build the modern Open Air Library we can see today. The abandoned industrial landscape was adorned with a fantastic urban experiment in the shape of a modern library, constructed from pieces of the modernist facade of the old HORTEN warehouse of the City of Hamm, built back in 1966. With no need for registration, the public library gathers readers in a contemporary outdoor setting. Readers can take books and bring them back or bring other ones in exchange, so that everyone can enjoy this open place and the knowledge it brings. Open 24 hours a day, the Open Air Library is also used for public readings, local band concerts and other cultural events. The elementary school uses the library for theater plays and every community member can take part in this cultural experiment.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.