Competition, Stockholm, Sweden, 2006
The new library results from: 1. Reusing the Asplund building; 2. Reusing the Annexes; 3. Covering the areas between the Annexes; 4. Adding a new annex; 5. Adding a new building on the hillside. Reusing the annexes and the space between may seem a rather ordinary solution given the lack of free space. What's not ordinary is the roof over the galleries: not glass but membrane fabric instead. Asplund had to give up his ideas for a roof-lit building due to technical limitations and costs, but this is eventually possible thanks to fabrics. Asplund's approach - between classicism and modernism, symbolic and functional - is truly contemporary without being extremely technological. Using rough 'industrial' materials - concrete floors, pre-weathered steel, brightly coloured plaster and membrane fabrics we aim at achieving a similarly calm and understated modernity throughout. Tents are often better than glass as far as roofs are concerned, yet still scarcely used in permanent architecture, mainly for cultural reasons. Nonetheless the few existing fabric structures have proven very successful for a series of reasons: unusual look, quality of light, large spans, low maintenance, self-cleaning with rain, pre-engineered for fast construction, very light weight. Silicon-coated fabric lasts 30+ years with virtually no maintenance, better than any other 'permanent' roof.