KÖLN KALK LIBRARY

08 October 2018

One of the most challenging old industrial areas of Cologne (Germany), the Kalk area, is slowly reinventing itself as a modern neighborhood. In the heart of Kalk you are now warmly welcomed by a third place for people of all ages, the brand new Kalk Library. It’s a cultural home where you can chill, work, read, learn, inform, or create, and experience a dazzling dose of digitecture.

Kalk Library is a co-creation of Aat Vos (design, strategy, creative direction) and Andreas Franke of FRANKE Architektur | Innenarchitektur (design & engineering partner). As one of Aat Vos’ most recent projects in Germany, Kalk Library is the result of cooperation between library and community. The library team used Design Thinking methods led by Julia Bergmann, trainer and library consultant, and user surveys to ensure the Kalk library adapted properly to the community. Aat Vos explains: “Inspired by what they have learned about the needs of the Kalk community, the library team was highly motivated and engaged to create the best possible result for the costumers. This led to the expansion of the project. We remodeled the entire library instead of ‘only’ adding a gaming station to the youth department, which was the original plan. This project is a prime example of the power of a story and its ability to enthuse stakeholders.”

Homely vibe

With its special design, the Kalk Library appeals to both young and older people. It offers numerous inviting, differently designed areas that are zoned through shelves. There is also a big hare toy to play and sit at, comfortable furniture, a multilingual media selection, Wi-Fi and of course lots of cuddly corners to sit back and relax with a book, just relax and socialize with friends. There are also quiet learning places, small group workplaces and a café where you can take drinks brought from the adjacent cafeteria. Opposite the work area is the eye-catcher of the ‘super shelf’: a large transparent shelf display that occupies a whole wall.

The entire first floor belongs to the teenagers. There, a tailor-made seating, play and feel-good landscape was created for them – with an interactive screen “The Wall” *, the Digitecture project, designed by Urban Screen especially for Kalk. Urbanscreen transforms architecture and spaces into stories, and incidentally creates a new art form. The young people can ‘chill out’, hang out, work, play or just meet. Large tables, an open-plan atmosphere, dimmable lighting, comfortable vintage furniture, rugs and makerspaces that provide multiple visitors space for experimenting are combined with industrial hardwood floors and other unusual elements. The extremely informal, appealing atmosphere changes the young people’s view of the library and leads to an image and paradigm shift. Here the visitor becomes the maker – from the consumer to the producer, who learns new things and shares his knowledge with others.

Innovative library

Hannelore Vogt, Director of Cologne Public Library is delighted with the new branch: “Kalk is the district with the highest percentage of migrants in Cologne. We therefore deliberately chose to open one of the most innovative libraries in Germany in Kalk. We wanted an unconventional, unmistakable third place, designed by Aat Vos, that houses numerous appealing facilities and services for all. For example, together with the Bremen artist group Urbanscreen, a unique interactive art project has been developed. It allows children and adolescents to experiment with large-scale digital works of art together with local artists. Kalk library features a makerspace as well as a mobile makerspace – an e-cargo bike, which enables us to reach people outside the library. Moreover, we rely on the Open Library** concept, meaning we also enable access outside opening hours. Together with the Kalk inhabitants we will develop an inclusive and interactive concept; this will be community engagement at its best.”

* = The Wall is a large interactive screen that offers unique opportunities for experimentation. One can work with tablets simultaneously and together on large-scale graphics, graffiti and animations, and save these projects. Conceivable formats would be drawing classes and graffiti workshops. For art classes, programs with STEM-related topics such as exploring 3D space or Silent Discos could be possible formats.

** = Open + by bibliotheca enables unstaffed operation of library infrastructure including patron self-service with payment options, book return, item security and all other services, e.g. gaming, use of PCs, etc. In Kalk, the state-of-the-art RFID system meets the needs of a modern public library by increasing library operating hours by 53%.

Project credits Kalk Library

Client: Stadtbibliothek Köln / Cologne Public Library
Kalk Library is a co-creation of Aat Vos (design, strategy, creative direction) and Andreas Franke of FRANKE Architektur | Innenarchitektur (design & engineering partner) and Cologne Public Library, in collaboration with bibliotheca (Open Library concept, self check 1000 and open+ system – bibliotheca.com), Urbanscreen (interactive screen The Wall – urbanscreen.com), Mandelartz Schreinerwerkstätte (Mandelartz Schreinerwerkstätte (manufacturer of parts of the shelf landscape and the wooden table top – thomas-mandelartz.com).

Photography credits: Marco Heyda

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