Snøhetta City Library Opens in Calgary


A large-scale project, which has been under development since 2013, has been completed. The building of the central city library Library Plaza in Calgary, Canada, designed by the bureau Snøhetta, officially opened on November 1

The building is inspired by the surrounding mountain landscape … The protruding “building” hangs over the existing line of the city tram, for its movement a special tunnel has been left passing through the building.

In 2013, the Snøhetta architecture firm, together with Canadian partners Dialog, won the selection competition for the design of a new public library building in Calgary. And finally, on November 1, the library opened its doors to readers. A high-tech public building located on the border of historic downtown Calgary and the East Village.

Designing a library for the northern region of Canada, the design team took into account the diversity of the urban environment and the unique climate. During the development of the project, the architects listened to the wishes and suggestions of more than 16,000 citizens. The result is a vibrant, welcoming and accessible public space in the heart of a growing metropolis.

The central arched tunnel, lined with wood, according to the authors, is reminiscent of the mountain wind of the Chinook, which forms the special clouds characteristic of the Albert region. The architectural space serves as a kind of gateway connecting neighboring districts, forming new public spaces within the city.

The elevated library building, with an open passage in the center of the building, creates a visual and pedestrian connection between the East Village and Calgary's historic center. In the lower tier of the building there are semicircular niches trimmed with wood: they remind of the clouds brought by the warm mountain wind of the Chinook (a natural phenomenon typical for the province of Alberta, where Calgary is located).

The sky is visible through the glazed dome of the atrium. A clear organization of movement in a spiral and walkways along the perimeter of the atrium form an easy navigation through all floors, starting from the main entrance.

Visitors to the library are greeted by a spacious lobby filled with natural light.

The library space is organized in a circle and a spiral. The most active and busy audiences are located at the lower level. Further, with each next floor, the density of visitors decreases. Quiet rooms spiral upward. On the third and fourth floors there are rooms for reading, individual lessons and study.

In the design of the facade, a unique geometry is used, representing the alternation of panels of transparent and tinted glass. The design makes it possible to adjust the level of natural light in the interior during the day. Behind the transparent glazing are lively crowded halls. Behind tinted windows are quiet audiences focused on reading and teaching.

The space is maximally adapted for parents with children: as you climb, there are different areas with soft rugs, children's furniture, toys and books, where the child can relax, play and read. “Traditionally, in large public libraries, children have a lower floor,” says Snøhetta co-founder Craig Dykers. “We wanted them to enjoy the space as much as adults do.

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