Lesseps Square, Barcelona
1.- As a backdrop to the library site, we understand the important role played by the large-sized rear facades of the buildings with access from the Republica Argentina Avenue.
2.- Note the radical change in the use and understanding of this part of the city caused by the direct connection of the "green corridor" (limited between Vallcarca Avenue and Bolivar Street) with Lesseps Square. In the first case, we try to meld the sheer size of the library with that of the buildings behind. This objective is translated on the ground by defining its limits with a rhomboidal geometry that completes the volume initiated by these buildings.
With this operation, the library faces the large open area of Lesseps Square and is given scale and protection by the volume formed by the rear buildings already mentioned.
In the second case, the opening of the green corridor to the north of Lesseps Square is understood as a public axis that expresses and reflects the unique topography on which this part of the city is situated (hillside, green areas mixed with development), of which the square presents itself precisely as either the end or the beginning. You could say that the mountains (Collserola) arrive at Lesseps and from here the city has a different consistency, more linked to the layout of the streets than to the topography or slope.
Expressing this mountain-city border-like quality of Lesseps Square has led us to configure the library volumetrically, almost like a building that – arriving from Collserola - is situated on the city with the attributes of the mountains.
The most important decision of the proposal was determining the location of the building in relation to the available space.
Plan A: The immediate response would have been to place the library on the alignment of Lesseps Square, leading to a principal facade that would reinforce the spatial framework of the square, while at the same time generating a rear facade, oriented towards the north, which we were interpreting negatively in so far as it would impede the connectivity of the square with the axis, which, centered on Vallcarca Avenue, makes the connection to the neighborhoods of Barcelona located in the foothills of Collserola Park.
Plan B: The proposed implementation of the library, freeing this desired connection, and, basically creating a parcel within a parcel, a perimeter linked to the outline of Riera de Vallcarca Street which, regardless of the internal organization of the library, determines its shape.
From the beginning, we thought that the access should be provided by the free space generated by the building’s position on the site.
And this condition, along with the usefulness determined by the plan to place the area for magazines and newspapers on the ground floor and towards Lesseps Square, inevitably led to a growth in the circumference in this part of the site.
This drove the project in this part of the building into architectural problems of great difficulty (for us) for which we tried various solutions, trying to reduce the surplus to an appendix , or, on the contrary, manifesting the volume as an alteration that even reaches the roof of the building. Finally, seeing that in the rear facade (which had not been given special attention as such) the movement of the roofing ended up providing light to the center of the library, we discovered, as it were, an instrument of the project which we did not count on.
We decided to apply what the rear roofing suggested by lifting and reorienting the entrance facade, and that allowed us to place the excess ground floor surface under cover and then continue from there with the same instrument to create the marquee and several vertical cuts in the higher parts to provide natural light in the center of the building site.
From this decision, using the roofing as an instrument of architecture to solve a design problem, we decided to describe the inside with the same instrument so that, from the entrance, there is already a presence in the eye of an inclined plane (suggesting an extension without limits), which could be understood as indicating a building accessible to the public that precisely reflects quasi-private activities such as studying and reading.