Würzburg Library

31 May 2017

Libraries branching out brings me great joy, especially when they do so with an edge. Hubland Library is a new branch of the Stadtbücherei Würzburg, which will be established at a former US Army base in Hubland, Germany. The challenge will be integrating the library as part of the community from the very beginning.

Würzburg Library sketch

Fresh start? No problem. Only solutions.

The goal is to create a house that reflects the new vision of the Stadtbücherei Würzburg: for its users, by its users. This project revolves around a completely new library, but at a historic location. The first steps are extremely significant, as they set the tone for the remaining creative process, and ultimately the outcome. This project required a mindset that was not problem-focused, but solution-oriented. Design Thinking was therefore the ideal approach. This method is human-centered, originating from the mental toolkit of designers. Empathy and prototyping are examples of design thinking skills help discover solutions. The results of a Design Thinking process by Julia Bergmann will ensure an optimal adaption to the Würzburg community.

Once you know where you’ve been, you’ll know where you’re going

Aat Vos

Creative Guide

In German, the word “Geschichte” means both history and story. This double meaning embodies the challenge: connecting the community to the history of this place but also empowering them to tell their new story. Hubland’s Geschichte carries a rich history. Located on a hill by Würzburg, its altitude enabled many flight experiments. Hot air balloons, zeppelins and airplanes all took flight from Hubland; there was even a flight school. The German Air Force built a small air base during World War II. However, after WWII it became a military base for the US Army, then named Leighton Barracks. As part of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service modernizing the area, it also became home to the largest American shopping mall in Europe in 1988, a key regional shopping area for Eastern Germany. The base was returned to German control only as recently as 2008. From the gruesome times of war to flourishing capitalism and revival, Hubland has seen it all.

Past. Present. Future.

This rich history demanded attention and consideration. An intense workshop investigated and prioritized functionalities, the users’ demands and recapped the Design Thinking outcome. Once you know where you’ve been, you’ll know where you’re going. The sketches you see on this page are the first ideas that sparked a connection between contemporary functionality and history. Since the library is found in the old air traffic control tower, a layered interior with visible and inspirational connections to Hubland’s past will bring the historic influences to life in the form of travel-inspired furniture and design elements. Once this atmosphere is the library’s present, it will be ready for its future. Hubland’s first year will be devoted to acting as an information center for the Landesgartenschau. All these initial steps aim to design a bespoke library that embraces its past and thereby adds character to the local Würzburg community.

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