13 . 01 . 2017

Strategy of the void

OMA - CAEN LA MER

Press visit

Com_OMA_Caen_C-JulienLanoo_20161122

Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville is a public library designed by OMA for the metropolitan region Caen la Mer in Normandy, France. The 12,000 m2 multimedia library is located at the tip of the peninsula that extends out from the city of Caen to the English Channel. The building’s cross-shaped design responds to the urban context, with each of the four protruding planes of the cross pointing to a landmark point in Caen: to the historical sites of the Abbaye-aux-Dames in the north and the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in the west, to the central train station in the south, and to the area of new construction in the east. At the same time, the geometry of two intersecting axes is informed by the library’s programmatic logic. The four planes, each housing a pedagogic discipline — human sciences, science and technology, literature, and the arts — meet in a large reading room on the first floor, to encourage maximum flow between the departments. This main library space is carved out of the center of the solid cross, defining the building’s design as an opposition between mass and void. As a civic center where people meet and share knowledge and information, public space is at the core of the library’s design. At the entrance level on the ground floor, there is a large open space with a press kiosk and access points to an auditorium with 150 seats, an exhibition space and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace on the waterfront.