This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the library category. See the full list of winners here.
When asked what the most challenging aspect was when designing the elegant Horse on the Ceiling library extension, zauberscho(e)n partners Stephan Weber and Andreas Schüring had an easy answer: They were both students at the time of commission. “It was the first time that we really put ourselves in the role of an architect, not [just] theoretically anymore,” they explained. “With our professor’s support”—that would Herbert Bühler of Bühler & Bühler—“we coped with all the ups and downs, [which] wasn’t always easy!”
Despite their admitted inexperience, the duo executed a thoughtful extension to a library at the Muenster University of Applied Sciences and the Academy of Art with the BLB NRW in Germany, creating a distinctive contemporary annex that respects the history of the campus. The Horse on the Ceiling incorporates part of the brick facade of the adjacent main library—once a functioning stable more than a century ago—into its design, placing stacks of books where horses once stood and surrounding them with floor-to-ceiling glazing.
As an abstract tribute to the past, sculptural columns that resemble ergonomically angled “horse legs” support the roof of the extension, giving the design its eccentric name. It is the glass walls, however, that most acknowledge the historic architecture on site: These transparent partitions make the adjoining brick wall visible from the exterior, while a band of skylights and an accompanying strip of fluorescent lighting illuminate the historic facade. Thus, instead of the obstructing the pre-existing brick barricade, the extension highlights it as an integral part of the design, bringing it to life, especially at night, when the entire space is illuminated into a glowing beacon of learning.