Joan Oliver Sant Antoni library in Barcelona by Catalan practice RCR Arquitectes 19.11.07

Written by  Alison Killing

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Hidden away behind a street facade in Barcelona is the Joan Oliver Sant Antoni library by Spanish practice RCR Arquitectes, a surprising addition to a once industrial site.

 Opening from a row of residential blocks, the building creates a new public square accessible from the street and independent from the library.

A suspended structure wedged between two of the apartment buildings contains the library’s administrative offices and provides the gateway to the tree-lined open space, which still contains a tall brick chimney – a remnant of the factory that was once there.

The reading rooms are housed in a single-storey structure that wraps around two sides of the courtyard and backs onto the blocks. A black metal screen of long vertical blades shades fully glazed walls and defines a walkway, reminiscent of a traditional Spanish gallery.

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“Between buildings, not walls” is how project architect Carme Pigem describes the square enclosed at the heart of the project, which would ordinarily have remained concealed in the urban fabric.

The competition brief had originally asked solely for an administrative building, but following RCR’s win, the programme was changed to a library, a building type more open to public use.



Alison Killing

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