Open-Air-Library in Magdeburg, Germany, is an inspiring reference for our project work.
The library was designed by KARO* with Architektur+Netzwerkin in 2009. The suburb of Magdeburg belongs to areas with social problems, like a high unemployment rates and poor qualiy of public facilities. The building of Open-Air-Library was built by residents of the neighbourhood in participative process from prefabricated pieces from a demolished building of a former library. They organized to collect and share books in a new library that they have constructed.
“Some twenty thousand books were collected and, with over a thousand beer crates a 1:1 scale model of the design that the residents liked best was constructed on the definitive location. This temporary construction was the venue for a small two-day reading and poetry festival.”
This successful initiative helped to achieve the necessary funding from the Federal Government to construct the facility of the new library.
“A thick wall containing shelving for the books shelters a green space where people can read in the open air and it culminates in a higher section that houses a cafeteria and a provides a stage where primary school plays are performed, public readings are given and young people’s bands hold concerts.”
The library is open to the public 24 hours a day. It is managed by the residents themselves who freely borrow and return books. Although, the new library has been vandalised on occasion.
“The result points to the possibilities of a civil society that is able to emancipate itself from the upside-down State protection when the public administration does not satisfactorily meet its needs.”