Situated in the historical district of the Château de Versailles, The University of Versailles School of Science Library offers its users’ a space that enables conscientious study and learning in an accessible environment. Typologies such as university libraries are subject to many questions today relating to the importance of print versus the digital realm. Despite owning computers, a rising number of students visit libraries, seeking not only optimum working conditions, but an extension of their living environment. Today’s hybrid library has evolved from a place to store and preserve books, to a flexible and adaptable space. In these new libraries, open and modular floors are paramount to accommodate society’s ongoing developments.
The building’s varied volumes express the three entities of the program: the entry hall, the reading rooms and internal spaces. The form is not only our response to the brief but importantly our resolution to exceeding requirements of a low energy building, fully acknowledging lighting and thermal comfort as well as highlighting the site’s contrasts.
The library’s interior footprint reads warmly and coherently, with the large staircase linking the viewer to the various reading rooms and contemplative zones. The play on ceiling height throughout the space allows the visitor to view various aspects of the library, all the while highlighting the flexible organization of the space. Adhering tightly to the existing landscape, the buildings orientation capitalizes on the sites natural energy sources whilst framing and capturing views. The eastern façade, nestled amongst existing woodland, features a glazed façade framing the forest view, which in turn is enjoyed from the reading rooms and throughout the library.
The use of a Trombe Wall on the southern façade captures the suns energy through the use of a glazed panel mounted against a dark stained concrete façade, warming the air circulating in the interstitial naturally for the building’s heating needs.