Library of Human Sciences - Université Libre de Bruxelles


The functional constraints of a university library and book conservation space generated the internal organisation of this triangular-shaped building that now stands among the faculty buildings as a symbol of knowledge at the heart of the university campus. The reading rooms, which offer free access to the books, are laid out on six floors in three duplexes organised according to thematic and educational subjects, with a reserved section on the first and second basement levels. The mezzanine floors provide pleasant, light interior spaces that are protected from excessive sunshine by a system on the partially screened windows allowing for a combination of natural and artificial lighting. The rooms have been laid out to create both common work spaces and areas for private study. Combining elementary geometrical forms, the library’s exterior evokes the bases of knowledge. Its main facade, constituting the hypotenuse of the triangle, with the ascending sequence of blind courses and windows, brings to mind the accumulation of knowledge while, to the right of the mezzanine, the break with the architectural order suggests the effect of inspirational thinking that cuts across methodical processes. The discreet entrance, between the sheets of the external envelope of the facades, suggests a kind of gap through which one penetrates the immensity of knowledge. Moreover, through its forms and lighting, the entrance hall also introduces a symbolism into the design. In addition to that, in spite of its significant architectural ambitions, the overall design was able to adhere to the very strict budgetary limits placed on the project.

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