Library in Caen

Designed by OMA in Caen, the Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville features a glass facade that visually connects the adjacent park, pedestrian pathway and waterfront plaza to the interior.

OMA, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville is a public library for the metropolitan region Caen la Mer in Normandy, France. The 12,000 sqm multimedia library is located at the tip of the peninsula that extends out from the city of Caen to the English Channel. Its key position – between the city’s historic core and an area of Caen that is being developed – supports the city’s ambition for the library to become a new civic center. The library’s glass facade visually connects the adjacent park, pedestrian pathway and waterfront plaza to the interior and together with two large ground floor entrances at both sides of the building, enables a fluid interaction of the library with its surroundings. On the upper floors, the urban belvedere provides unobstructed views in all four directions.

 

The building’s cross-shaped design responds to the urban context, with each of the four protruding planes of the cross pointing to a landmark point in Caen: to the historical sites of the Abbaye-aux-Dames in the north and the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in the west, to the central train station in the south, and to the area of new construction in the east. At the same time, the geometry of two intersecting axes is informed by the library’s programmatic logic. The four planes, each housing a pedagogic discipline – human sciences, science and technology, literature, and the arts – meet in a large reading room on the first floor, to encourage maximum flow between the departments. This main library space is carved out of the center of the solid cross, defining the building’s design as an opposition between mass and void.

OMA, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
OMA, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
As a civic center where people meet and share knowledge and information, public space is at the core of the library’s design. At the entrance level on the ground floor, there is a large open space with a press kiosk and access points to an auditorium with 150 seats, an exhibition space and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace on the waterfront. The first floor contains a large variety of work and reading spaces and 120,000 documents, with physical and digital books placed side-by-side in the bookshelves.
OMA, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
OMA, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France, 2017. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti
The digital extension of the physical collections, integrated within the bookshelves, is one of the new multimedia features of the library. The top floor of the library is occupied by a space for children, as well as offices and logistics. The archive and special historical collections are stored in safe and dry conditions in the concrete basement, protected from the surrounding water by an innovative waterproof membrane applied on the inner side of the concrete walls.


Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville, Caen, France
Program: library
Area: 12,700 sqm
Completion: 2017

Competition
Architect: OMA
Project manager: Barcode Architects – Dirk Peters

Associate in charge: Clément Blanchet

Design team: Cristina Ampatzidou, Joshua Boyd, Nils Christa, Marc Dahmen, Guillaume Durand, Alice Grégoire, Simon de Jong, Anthony Joyeux, Noémie Laviolle, Clément Périssé, Jos Reinders
Design development
Architect:
OMA
Associate in charge: Clément Blanchet

Project leader: Francisco Martinez
Design team: Merve Anil, Alicia Casals, Helena Hiriart, Phil Handley, Sangwoo Kim, Byungchan Kim, Pierre Jean Le Maitre, Maria Aller Rey, Mariano Sagasta, Giulia Scotto, Sara Sun 
Construction
Partner:
Chris van Duijn

Contract manager: Francois Riollot

Project leader: Francisco Martinez

Design team: Maria Aller Rey, Julien Miguel, Phelan Heinsohn, Jerome Picard, Jeanne Le Lièvre 
Collaborators

Architecture:
Barcode Architects, Clement Blanchet Architecture
Engineering: Iosis / Egis Batiments

Sustainability and facade: Elioth
Acoustic: RHDHV

Scenography: Ducks sceno

Renderings – moving images: ArtefactoryLab

Facade: Robert-Jan van Santen / VS-a group

Curtains: Inside Outside

 

Latest on News

Latest on Domus

China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views