When a Library is Art
I have the feeling there’s not much to say about this place, yet there is a lot to see. Still with all memories alive from my last visit to another famous library in Europe, the Clementinum (in Prague), while in Stuttgart I found myself kind of in a parallel universe. The Stadtbibliothek in Stuttgart, Germany is not only a library, it is a work of art.
The library in the city of Kafka did not allow pictures. Such a sacred site where nothing could be touched, not even by a strong beam of light. Our heart beats were too noisy, our breaths too heavy. A beautiful but still unreachable Baroque immensity.
Being Borges my favorite writer, it was a building I had to visit. He mentions it in The Secret Miracle, the main character dreams about this library where librarians look for God in the books. As one of them says: God is in one of the letters of one of the pages of one of the four hundred thousand books of Clementinum. My fathers and the fathers of my fathers have looked for this letter; I have gone blind looking for it. I’m not telling you the end… just be aware. If you love books, you might find God at the Clementinum.
What you will certainly find in the Stadtbibliothek instead, is purity. Purity of color, of form, of light. Simplicity can be as holy as Baroque. As immense. Therefore I reassure you, there’s not much to say about this place. I’d rather share some pictures.
Graphotheque, Meeting room and Cafeteria. The cafeteria is on the 8th floor, separated from the surrounding areas by a glass wall. One side faces the reading room; the others, views of Stuttgart. From here, take the stairs in the space between the façades and go up to the roof terrace. The Graphotheque is also on the 8th floor and again, a glass wall divides it from the public area. All workstations have natural anti-glare light. Wide corridors and doors allow staff to transport book trolleys.
Inner core. The access to the center core of the building is through the circular entrance hall. This heart is surrounded by a second inner façade, and lies in the middle of the building. A cube-shaped space lit only from above by a central light. This archaic hall, that like the Pantheon makes reference to the cavern as an original place of human habitation, is re-interpreted here against the background of our technological reality. The route to the core of the building leads through many layers, opening onto the funnel-shaped reading room above. A staircase around takes visitors from ground level to the 4th floor.
Staircase. Just like the foyer on the ground floor, the areas for media presentation above it are circular. In the middle, from the 4th floor above the Heart roof light, there is the reading room opening up to the glass roof. It extends over four floors, and links various studios. The twisting staircases of each reading gallery – arranged in pairs – flow as promenades. The recessed floors extend this space upwards up to the ceiling, utterly lit by daylight.
“At the beginning of the new millennium we have reached a point with our architecture where it is worth rediscovering the fundamental types of architecture and reinterpreting their essential characteristics. By interpreting the original architectural proposition in all its facets and variations that have appeared in the different cultures and epochs of human civilization, my architecture aims to ease an appreciation of architecture. In doing so, it emphasizes the proposition that all superfluous elements be discarded, and the existing elements be reduced to the essential core statement. In the aimless age in which we live, we have to create an architecture that remains true to its essentials and inner core. We have in this case worked on a construction together – a completely homogeneous, calm, monolithic building that contains a great many of the secret values of our civilization. A completely homogeneous, calm, monolithic building that contains a great many of the secret values of our civilization. These values are neutralized and polished to the point where they possess a universal value that applies to all ages, so that only our pure spirit is projected onto the material”.
Eun Young Yi, Architect
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Round the Clock: Return of borrowed media items, Library for Insomniacs.
On the Website: Online borrowing of digital media (Onleihe), e-learning, podcasts, Library catalog, administration of personal borrower accounts, e-mail information.
Some information about the Library
Families: Children with their parents or other people accompanying them are welcome everywhere in the library. There is a children’s toilet in the Children’s Section on the second floor and a baby changing room on the lower ground floor. On the second floor there are facilities to warm baby food, on request.
Accessibility: The whole library is accessible to all. People with visual impairment can use a special PC and screen reader on the 6th floor. Staff on every floor are happy to help.
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