New reading rooms at the National Library win Property Design Award
The modernisation of the reading rooms at the National Library of Poland, designed by Konior Studio, has won a Property Design Award in the category "Design – Interiors: Public Buildings". The award was made during the 4 DESIGN DAYS in Katowice.
Regarding their choice, the jury stated that "the redevelopment at the National Library was guided by a single key idea – the desire to preserve the building's modernist character. The reading room was given a new structure and function, suitable for its purpose, emphasised by the use of natural materials, while at the same time adapting the interiors to the needs of contemporary users."
The award was accepted by Dr Tomasz Makowski, Director of the National Library, and Tomasz Konior and Dominik Koroś from Konior Studio.
4 DESIGN DAYS is the largest real estate, architecture, interiors and design event in the region. This year's event was held from January 26-29 at the International Congress Centre in Katowice.
New reading rooms at the National Library
In 2015 a two-stage competition was announced for the redevelopment at the National Library. The winning design, by Konior Studio, has transformed the building into an exceptional place – with better light, improved acoustics and fine details emphasising the original structure and the status of the building as the treasury of Poland's written heritage.
Part of the historical material of the building has been preserved, modernised and integrated into a new spatial arrangement – an exceptional space that does not seek to dominate or impose itself on users, but rather to delight them. Particular features include the suspended openwork copper-mesh ceiling, a spiral staircase made of raw steel and the extensive use of natural light, which enters through a vast skylight in the steel structure.
The Main Desk forms the centre of the new reading rooms, which are arranged over two levels. Here, readers can register, get information, order items from the collections and pick items up.
Close to the Main Desk is the Newspapers & Current Periodicals Reading Room, where users can browse the latest issues of newspapers and periodicals, and consult the Library's digital resources. This space is open to everyone, including visitors who do not have a library card.
From here, the Lower Reading Room is visible. This is the dominant feature of the two floors, the space with the most light – a slender structure accessed by a spiral staircase with a lift inside it.
The Recent Publications Reading Room, the separate Reference Books Reading Room and the Small Reading Rooms have glass walls and are arranged in such as a way as to allow small research teams to work on projects together. The Upper Reading Room is the largest of the rooms, containing an almost complete collection of fiction and historical studies on open access shelves.
Close by is the Załuski Reading Room, which owes its name to the founders of the National Library. This is where the bibliology collection is located.
The only reading room which cannot be freely accessed is the Rare Book & Manuscript Reading Room. This is where manuscripts, early printed books, ephemera, and rare and valuable items are made available, along with old library catalogues from all over the world.
The entire space, which is barrier-free, is complemented by greenery correlating to each of the individual reading rooms, adding seasonal colour.
The figures relating to the space are also impressive. Thus, the total area of the reading rooms has now tripled to 13,500 m2, while the total volume is almost 52,500 m3. The Lower Reading Room is dominated by a 324 m2 skylight, whose steel structure is made up of 96 sections and weighs a total of 63 tonnes. In all, 386 numbered desks are available for readers. The total cost of the project was PLN 41,549,462.95.
The redevelopment was carried out as part of the European Union's Protection of Cultural Heritage and Development of Cultural Resources project, with co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund and additional funds from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.