Köln-Kalk Library

06 Apr 2017

One of the most difficult areas of Cologne, the Kalk neighborhood, is an old industrial environment which is currently in the process of reinventing itself as a trendy modern neighborhood. Due to economic downturn in the region, companies and people had withdrawn from the area and Kalk found itself in a downwards spiral of neglect.

The power of a good story

The task initially was to implement a gaming room for kids in the local library that is situated within the city hall. As word of the idea spread people realized that their neighborhood would be receiving some attention and voiced their support for the library to dare to take a chance on change. The region was excited and ready for a spacelift and to bring back life and energy into its community. This support led to the expansion of the project to remodeling the entire library.

This project is a prime example of the power of a story and its ability to enthuse stakeholders.

Aat Vos

Creative Guide

With increased financial strength and expectations high, this project had to become a beacon of change; a non-commercial place that was inviting to international visitors and set the tone for people to meet, find information and share knowledge. All ages had to be accommodated, from children to the elderly. Currently in execution, the original gaming station will be implemented as promised, along with realizing a vision that includes a playground, furniture appropriate for seniors, a multi-lingual media selection, a foosball table, a coffee place, wifi, work places with electricity and printers and much more. The final goal is for all to have the same opportunities to work, read, learn, play, or simply meet up.

Ripple effects of local change

Much of the inequality found in society stems from exclusion, or lacking certain opportunities. This public space was now actively combating discrimination. By fostering the learning of different languages and interactions that share knowledge, this library would aim to provide people with equal opportunities. Large tables, a transparent atmosphere, comfortable furniture, carpets, round desks for people to gather around and wooden floors will all help to create an informal atmosphere to make visitors feel at ease and welcome. This library is intended to be one of the first visible signs of change as this municipality sheds its dusted cloak of boredom and mundaneness to transform into a vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood.

Bringing the vision to life

Thanks to its unapologetic authenticity and multicultural environment, Kalk is drawing creative talent to its core. This presents a fascinating blend of old and new; a forgotten area being colonized by the innovative and creative. New opportunities are arising in Kalk, and the Köln-Kalk library will be one of them. Acknowledging this neighborhood’s dynamic of ‘old meets new’, we aim to create a real piece of digitecture for the gaming room space, combining digital with architecture to give Kalk something it has never experienced before. The digital part of digitecture for this project will involve visuals that are projected directly onto the gaming room, thus creating an interplay of light, textures and space. This combination will add an unexpected visual dimension that elevates the entire experience to the next level.

Team synergy

Venturing outside of the Netherlands, I felt this library could use a local helping hand to meet the local standards and requirements. Flexible networks allow me to meet every project’s unique needs, which is why a German partner architect was commissioned to help bring the vision for the Köln-Kalk library to life. Andreas Franke, of Franke Architektur und Innenarchitektur, is located just outside of Cologne in the town of Düren. His excellent drawings and engineering are vital steps in getting this project ready for creation, and I am enjoying this cooperation.

This public space shows its inhabitants they were not only heard, but listened to. Thanks to stakeholders setting their minds to something and believing in this project, Köln-Kalk library will become a symbol for change in the region and inspire others to follow suit.

Curious yet? Stay tuned and subscribe to my newsletter to see what fresh approaches Kalk will be taking next.

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