Public Library, Dornbirn (AT)

The library of the town of Dornbirn was designed as an inter-generational sharing, meeting and learning space. It promotes reading and the practice of languages, the exploration of computerized research methods and new forms of communication.

The joint project of the architectural offices Dietrich | Untertrifaller and Christian Schmoelz succeeded against 18 competitors and won the international architectural competition in early 2016. “The new library is a milestone for Dornbirn’s culture and education,” says Mayor Andrea Kaufmann happily.

Urban Context

The ovoid shaped pavilion was established autonomously and seems to have been placed in the park from above. It stands out expressively among the rectangular shapes of the surrounding buildings. The external path crosses the building, which then becomes a public space.

Client: Stadt Dornbirn
Location: A-6850 Dornbirn, Schulgasse 44
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller with Christian Schmoelz
Project management: Peter Nussbaumer, Christopher Braun
Competition: 2015
Construction: 2018-2019
Area: 1,610 m²
Capacity: Library for up to 100.000 books, media & games, makerspace, event hall, café

Awards: Design Educates Award 2021, Hypo Client’s Award 2020, Archello’s Best Projects 2020

statics: gbd, Dornbirn / HAVCR: Messner, Dornbirn / building physics: Weithas, Hard / electronics: Hecht, Rankweil / soil mechanics: 3pgeo, Bregenz / landscape: Balliana-Schubert, Zurich

builder: Wilhelm + Mayer Bau, Götzis and Rümmele Bau, Dornbirn / facade: Möding Keramikfassaden, Marklhofen (DE) and Spiegel Fassadenbau, Koblach / wood-aluminium windows and portals: Böhler Fenster, Wolfurt

Photos: © Albrecht I. Schnabel, © Aldo Amoretti

2021 | 05 AIT Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 02 Baumeister Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 2020 | 12 Architektur Vorarlberg 2020 Stadtbibliothek | 12 Architektur Aktuell Hypo Bauherrenpreis + Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 11 Original Hypo Bauherrenpreis 2020 | 11 architektur Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 10 Wettbewerbe Aktuell Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 09 Bauwelt Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 09 Architektur Aktuell Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 05 VN_Leben&Wohnen Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn | 01 VN_Sonderbeilage Stadtbibliothek Dornbirn

Coherent organization on three levels

Ground level
First floor

A facade of 8,000 stylized ceramic books

A lattice of prefabricated ceramic elements is mounted on a steel frame at a distance of 70 cm from the glazed facade. The ornaments are inspired by books arranged on shelves. At night, the light filtered by these moucharabys offers an open image of the park and the city.
Behind this fixed shading system, which also saves energy costs, there is a ring of room-high wood-aluminium windows with triple glazing and additional ventilation sashes in working areas.

A public living room for curious people

New media, the increasing digitalisation of our everyday lives and the associated change in our entire reading and communication culture have led to a situation where a library is now a kind of public living room in which curious people with similar goals can come together, sometimes quietly delving into the subject matter, sometimes talking to each other.

The access path leads directly to the double height auditorium with the central lending desk, that is flooded with natural light by its central atrium. The open-access area on both levels is flexibly organized around the atrium. A single-flight staircase leads to the basement, where the media library, the games library and an open maker’s space are located.

A total of 1,200 square metres, spread over three floors, offer sufficient space for up to 100,000 books and magazines, cosy corners for reading, listening to music and trying out games, as well as offices and meeting rooms. The large, flexibly usable assembly hall serves as a reading area or event hall for lectures, book presentations and film screenings, depending on requirements. Practical detail: A screen is concealed in the staircase parapet on the ground floor, with the corresponding projection technology located opposite at the other end of the hall. If required, the central skylight window can be shaded.

Media competence for children

The municipal library creates room for new media, new and additional educational offers and numerous events, which are intended to teach children in particular more media competence. There are separate areas for the different age groups, but there are also retreats, for example the reading room, where you can also browse comfortably. In the gaming zone, children and young people can meet their friends and try out the latest electronic games.

The BI:JU youth library is designed as a lively meeting place and offers young people a wide range of services on the topics of media, Safer Internet and stays abroad. They can learn, work together on projects, attend events or organise some themselves. They receive support in finding information and with questions about smartphones or tablets.