This project was the winning proposal in a competition for the organisation of the Ghent University architecture library in an existing physics hall in the heart of the ’Jozef Plateau’ building, a labyrinthine, 19th century university block.
OFFICE’s proposal was two-fold: the refurbishment of the hall through the addition of a large steel cupboard; and the introduction of a new vertical circulation in the entrance courtyard of the new library, which would transform and clarify the use of the front wing of the complex. Only the first part of the proposal was executed.
The intervention is the insertion of a large, pavilion-like piece of furniture under the balcony of the Physics hall. This accessible, three-storied cupboard forms a complete perimeter around the central, atrium-like space, enforcing its monumental scale.
The perimeter of cupboards — realised completely as a bolted construction of prefabricated steel elements — contains passages, stairs and desks, and organises both the library itself and the access to the multiple backoffices and auxiliary functions.
The different collections of books, which are organised in levels according to accessibility and exclusivity, are presented visibly towards the central space, which contains reading tables.
A system of vertically sliding, perforated panels allows for the cupboards to be closed off, protecting the collection during lectures and other events, while keeping them visually present.