Service Building for Herzog August Library
Bibliophile Building Culture
  • Location
  • Project
    New construction of a service building for the Herzog August Library
  • Procedure
    Realization competition (3rd place)
  • Client
    Braunschweig State Building Management, in close cooperation with the user, Herzog August Library
  • Architect of record
    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer
  • Planning period
  • Gross floor area
    2,100 m²
  • Visualizations
  • Model
    Modellbau Pfeiffer & Voss

Founded in Wolfenbüttel in 1572, the Herzog August Library, often hailed as the world’s eighth wonder, is today an internationally acclaimed research library with over one million books and a vast collection of medieval manuscripts. It plans to add a new service building to enhance the historic ensemble that includes the Biblioteca Augusta main library building, the Direktorenhaus administration building, and the Magazin for closed stacks, collectively forming the Zentrum Altes Buch (Center for Old Books). In 2020, the Braunschweig State Building Management launched a competition for this expansion, in which our design earned the 3rd place. Our proposal inserts a new three-story building with a square footprint into the gap formed by the existing buildings, responding to the axiality and symmetry of the surrounding structures and pathways. A low, barrier-free base with ramp access provides flood protection and flexible landscaping. Two slim bridges create direct connections from the service building to both the main library and the Magazin.

Connecting Element

The centrally situated service building is accessed from the middle of the ensemble. Its three floors house workshops and workrooms along the facade, with entry via a central atrium that includes a service core, a sculpturally designed staircase, and a spacious lounge with views of the Weser River. The ground floor is dedicated to the photography workshop, while the first floor houses the prints and manuscripts department. The eastern circulation corridor leads to the glass bridges and widens into a meeting room. The conservation and restoration department occupies the second floor, where north-facing skylights provide diffused natural light, and building utilities are discreetly integrated into the folded ceiling geometry.

Within the Frame

We proposed constructing the new service building as a slender, economical, and robust reinforced concrete skeleton. The facade, inspired by the existing buildings, adopts the clear facade structure of the historic Biblioteca Augusta and translates it into a uniform grid of pilasters and friezes. This grid accommodates openings and filled sections tailored to the varied uses of each floor. The building’s edges and roofline visually frame the structure, contrasting with the smooth, gridded sandstone facade. A resource-efficient steel lattice supports the folded metal roof that neatly hides the angled skylights for a clean and cohesive aesthetic.

Project team