Even though the University Library of the Vienna University of Technology covers its core needs in terms of information provision primarily at its main location, three departmental libraries can already be found in the immediate vicinity of individual users or readers, similar to satellites. They were installed in order to be able to satisfy the subject-specific “thirst for knowledge” in a decentralized manner. In addition, there is a historically grown network of individual institute libraries. These are facilities that benefit the institute’s members, but question the accessibility for third party users in terms of processing. In the context of this design, the question of how a departmental library could be programmatically “put on its feet” is to be pursued. First of all, it is necessary to approach the “grain market” where this library is to be located. Subsequently, a spatial scenario is to be developed that not only allows a “lively” use, but rather strategically promotes it! So how does such a place of knowledge intake present itself?
What makes a library, in particular a departmental library of today? How does such a reading and study workshop present itself, or what concrete task does it have? Simplified, what do today’s students do in such a space and how do they do it? One thing is certain: it is certainly no longer purely literature research that drives students to a library. Rather, it is important to observe that university libraries are not infrequently visited in order to exchange experiences and to communicate. Concentrated as well as informal work can be observed in many places where previously only the book and the study of the same were in the foreground. Libraries thus voluntarily or involuntarily provide the kind of space that often seems to be lacking elsewhere, or at least is not recognized and accepted as such. Now one may speak of an undesirable shift of function, or, as was observed in that design program, one may see in this circumstance a potential worth working on. Whichever way one looks at it, different worlds do indeed collide in the context of such “hybrid” spaces. On the one hand, the demand for rooms of silence and concentration must be met, on the other hand, it must be understood as a comprehensible need to want to find a correspondingly open and lively environment in such a new, modified library. One that stimulates professional communication and promotes a corresponding exchange. The library thus almost inevitably becomes a built working, reading and learning landscape, for which a whole variety of spatial requirements must be met. Finally, the architecture or the respective created space is rightly demanded to be able to redeem a specific and as appropriately perceived call character.
The library of today and possibly that of tomorrow will therefore by no means prove to be a collection of uniform shelves with a few reading places in the intermediate area, although this circumstance will to a certain extent continue to be a fixed component of a library. In addition, other media than just the classic book or the magazine will undoubtedly be increasingly consulted. It is necessary to react appropriately to the range of changes in the context of such a space and to develop a spatial scenario that takes these circumstances into account.
Furthermore, it is important for the students to be aware of the context: The location on the existing Audiomax as well as the surrounding conglomeration of different “building styles” on a relatively busy development zone.
Inevitably, the majority of the students have to try to give a face to the relatively faceless surrounding architecture or at least to create a noticeable spatial situation. The work at this complex location is, however, also a work on the entrance to a larger learning and study environment, and not least one on the possibilities of a position that evokes a high degree of exposure. For quite a few, the work on the location then also becomes an operation on the spatially enhanced view and the work on the spectacle of the overhang, which not least brings with it the advantage of a roof for the Audimax’s front area.