A sustainable library. The new library in St-Pieters-Woluwe is conceived as a precious and performative object amidst the housing fabric. The building stands out as an exceptional public program in the green garden district of this inner suburb, yet modestly takes it place in the rows of housing. The library operates as the front of a school campus and links the educational facilities to the neighborhood and its residents.
Although the building was designed to house a collection of books and the rhythm of the windows follow an optimal grid for spacing shelving units, the main structural framework can incorporate a series of uses and adaptation. The building was designed as a space for exchange of ideas and dialogue, and not only for books. The evolution of library collections is volatile and new media is challenging the library as a concept. Hence the architecture is neutral and functional on the inside, generous in space and circulation loops, with a clear and identifiable facade. Central to the plan is the patio garden that regulates the heath and daylight needed for the building energy consumption and allows for outdoor reading at the same time. The library is the first in Belgium to follow the 'passive house' construction standard, resulting in extreme low energy consumption and is equipped with several energy features such as heath pump, photo voltaic panels and bulky insulation. The sustainable ambition of the design was awarded the Exemplary Building 2014 award by the Brussels Capital Region, based on it's energy efficiency and sustainable design strategy.
Worth a penny. Not unlike the gilded letters in mediaeval scripts the library is clad with a metal panels, an alloy that differs less than 2% from standard euro-cent coins. The facade cladding is deliberate in how it reflects the surrounding yet radiates a precious golden glow on a background of lush greens. Inside the main activities room holds a precious metal ceiling designed in the sixties by Jules Wabbes, that was recuperated from the general bank building in Brussels city center. Originally based on the size of Belgian Currency notes of 2000 Fr., the metal ceiling made of a messing panels placed in an orthogonal grid directs the light downward and generates a soft hue of golden light supporting the intimate atmosphere of the room where book readings and poetry recitals take place on a regular basis. The recuperated ceiling, both as material and as design installation, fit well in the sustainable ambition of this examplatory building.
“...an oasis in the Belgian landscape of Libraries...” Koen Van Synghel, architecture critic, De Standaard, 2015