State and University Library Göttingen

The State and University Library of Göttingen is one of the five largest in Germany and home to a valuable collection of books. Its structural composition, the back of a hand with five fingers in form, responds, on the one hand, to town planning factors and, on the other hand, to internal usage. A U-shaped, compact structure, housing the administrative offices, encompasses the library to the north, east and northwest and lends the existing forum, as closure to the south, a distinct spatial form. Opposite to this are the transparent “fingers“ that interlock with the landscape to the south and lead over to the embankments and the city centre.

A three-sided freestanding rotunda serves as the main access area and leads into the building-high glazed entrance hall. This unfolds like an open book, presenting visitors with various departments and simultaneously serving as the library’s foyer and communication area. The public areas that enjoy frequent, short term use, such as those containing the checkout and text book collection, are located next to the hall and are orientated towards the existing forum on the exterior. The fingers contain bright study and reading zones and accommodate 450,000 books and 600 light-flooded study carrels, as well as quiet, enclosed study booths. Large window surfaces face onto the surrounding landscape The stacks, underground garage and service rooms are all located on the lower floors.

Another major architectural component and important source of daylight are the roof ridge skylights that are arranged lengthwise between the finger-shaped wings. These are closed underneath by plates of glass, transforming them into air ducts out of which warm air is extracted and cool air can be fed.

Location Göttingen, Germany
Competition 1st prize, 1985
Construction 1985 - 1993
GFA 47.059 m²
GV 189.730 m³
1996 Architekturpreis des deutschen Klempnerhandwerks
1994 BDA-Preis Niedersachsen
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