The Philology Library at Berlin’s Free University

A sustainable city begins and ends with the types of buildings that populate it. There is no point in having superb infrastructure and clean rapid transit if your buildings all have dirty smokestacks, ooze out energy from leaky windows and are generally poorly designed. A big part of this website will be showcasing architecture and design that leads the way in the move towards a sustainable city. To create a modern living center a great depository of knowledge will be key so it’s fitting that we begin this segment with a Library. A Foster and Partners design – you’ll hear a lot about them on this site – it is the best example we have today of a modern library.

The Philological Library was built in 2005 by Foster and Partners and was designed to be a unique, breathable, extremely energy efficient building all while tying into the much older buildings that surround it. Known as the Brain, due to the overall appearance of the building coupled with the obvious metaphor, the library is composed of a five story concrete tower covered by a double skin. The internal skin is a glass-fiber fabric and the outer is lightweight steel and glass. Having a dual layer allows convection and natural heating to permeate through. Openings in the outer layer allow warm air to escape in the summer and when closed the glass panels allow heat from the sun to enter. About sixty percent of the time the building is naturally heated/cooled giving it an advantage of at least 35% over similarly sized buildings.

The Library houses over seven hundred thousand book and has seating for six hundred fifty students. All the

Philological Library, the book stacks

administrative and support offices are in an adjoining building. Of course the entire space has available wireless internet and plenty of locker space.

Transparent openings spaced at intervals provide direct sunlight. Classic wood chairs by German architect Egon Eiermann and rectangular aluminum task lamps, designed by Foster and Partners, are integrated with their serpentine desk system, which lines the perimeter of each balcony. more…



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