Hubland Library Würzburg

05 Jun 2019

The newly opened Hubland Library in Würzburg – based at a former US military base – is a bespoke community hub, designed to meet the needs of local citizens. This inclusive place offers an experience that embraces the area’s history as a new story to be told.

Hubland Library is a co-creation of international creative guide & architect Aat Vos (design, strategy, creative direction) and Klaus Dossler of (engineering partner). “The goal was to create a house that reflects the new vision of Stadtbücherei Würzburg: for its users, by its users. The challenge was to connect the community to the history of this place, but also empowering them to tell their own new story and provide a low threshold room that helps build a community. Hubland’s ‘Geschichte’ (meaning both history and story) is rich, and – simply stated – about hot air balloons, zeppelins and airplanes, but also about the revival of a growing economy after WWII. This Geschichte also deals with the American airbase that occupied the place till 2008, but now includes a fresh urban development that adds a new neighborhood in the heart of Würzburg. Design Thinking – led by trainer and library consultant Julia Bergmann – was the ideal, human-centered project approach to kickoff the creative process. It led to the optimal adaption to the Würzburg community. The result is an inviting creative concept that offers room and experiences for all age groups; a genuine third place experience for all that helps you connect with others. It offers ‘time well spent’,” Aat Vos explains.

Proud involvement

Anja Flicker, Director Stadtbücherei Würzburg, states further: “Contemporary library work takes people’s living realities into focus. For example: we learned from local adolescents that they desire to chill in privacy with peers, and not as we thought, in a noisy action area. This knowledge led to providing the basement with a more secluded gaming zone, cocoons to hang out in and a UFO to offer an opportunity for retreat as well as for discoveries. By closely involving the residents in the development process, a sense of pride in being involved and great enthusiasm is created in the neighborhood. We strive for everyone to feel at home here.” Hubland Library relies on the Open Library concept, which means that the library is also accessible outside staffed hours; everyone with a library card has access to the library between 7am and 10pm.

Located on the second floor of the same building is the “Zentrum für Digitale Innovation”, an institution to support digital start-ups. Collaboration with the library is predestined; not only do the library goers get to have a glimpse at the newest digital innovations, but the start-ups also have an “in-the-wild”-testing environment thanks to the visitors.

Not just for aliens

The fusion of history and progress has been translated into an interior design with features that playfully wink at Hubland’s US Army and aircraft roots. Even the typology of the signing refers to old oil company logos. Three eye-catching ‘specials’ are important features in the design story: a coffee car in a luggage vehicle on the ground floor, designed as a central meeting point, a life-size air balloon for kids to hide in and a stunning piece of custom craftsmanship… a massive UFO for group sessions at the basement. This informal meeting spot for young people seems to be able to take off at any time thanks to long steel tubes. Its upholstery is a combination of different fabrics with identity and tangible texture. Who wouldn’t want to climb aboard for an intergalactic escape? Next to these three ‘specials’, Hubland Library offers various stages for play and performance, a coffee zone (in addition to the coffee car), a giant reading table/makerspace, smaller reading/relax cocoons, a work bar, a space for kids to climb, clamber and play, a kitchen for parents (to warm up their baby’s milk bottle for instance), and more.

Steel landscape

Hubland Library’s modern interior contains numerous vintage props (from antique chairs to airplanes) and the use of different types of steel: classic Low Riders (blue steel), copper lamps above the coffee car, old oil barrels as info points, and a daring steel construction in the basement. Like a landscape, the interior offers various places to stay, hangout and discover. It is dynamic in height, depth and shape so that it looks like something that has evolved over time. It includes the private gaming zone (to be closed with a curtain), surrounded by steel bookshelves and industrial wall lamps, but also a group study cocoon (with a plexiglass bulb window at the top, which again refers to airplanes). With unexpected bits and pieces of the past strewn across the present, this library breathes history in a refreshing way, down to the smallest details.

Project credits Hubland Library

Hubland Library (Stadtbücherei Würzburg) is a co-creation of Aat Vos (design concept, strategy, art direction – and – Klaus Dossler (engineering) in collaboration with FacilitylinQ (supplier of the freestanding new, modern furniture –, Art-Army AS Oslo (Claude Wittwen, scenic painting and decoration), Julia Bergmann Training & Consulting (Design Thinking –, Schmiede Neunzehn (Georg Weidauer, metal artist, UFO, coffee bar, metal objects –, Polsterwunsch Meisterwerkstatt (Janina Schraud, upholstery furniture, hot air balloon, curtains, cloth covers room divider –, KAPUZE Grafikdesign (Christoph Ulherr, mural – and bibliotheca (Open Library concept, selfCheck 500 and open+ system –

Photography: Marco Heyda

Larger images are available on request

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