The Strasbourg National University Library located in the heart of the city is a prestigious building that dates from the German period (1871). The attitude adopted for its rehabilitation is to scrupulously respect the monumental structure and historically remarkable design.
With this in mind, the project accentuates the characteristic mouldings on the façade and magnifies the visibility of the dome by making it visible from all the lower levels. The use of a specific architectural vocabulary clearly distinguishes the new spaces from the existing structure. The three main spaces—reception, circulation passageways, reading areas—therefore have a marked visual treatment that dialogues with the monumental architecture.
The intervention involves removing interfering elements that prevent the quality of the original volumes from being seen, by constructing vertical circulation systems and new functional spaces. The aim of removal is to make the volume beneath the dome accessible and visible both to the public and users. This exceptional volume will constitute the principal visual anchor for the whole project.
In order to offer an open space with an atmosphere conducive to reading, working and conviviality, four levels are created around the grand atrium. This replaces the five existing floors and creates comfortable ceiling heights for the reading areas Vertical circulation cores are placed at each of the four angles of the new levels. These angles correspond to the four former courtyards and become the nerve centres of the new library’s operation and freeing the major public volumes from technical and security contingencies. This design gives the staff greater comfort of use and the public levels greater visual comfort.