Radical Assimilation - Public Library and Knowledge Centre
The site is located in the very heart of Hódmezővásárhely, near historic buildings – among others the city hall built by Lajos Ybl in neo-renaissance style (1893), the Reformed Old Church from the first half of the 18th century that resembles the late-renaissance architecture of Transylvania and the folk-baroque barn – that, among other historic buildings, surround the representative Kossuth square.
The library is a place to store and explore books. In the post-Gutenberg age, it was expected that other forms of data mediums were to take over the role of printed content and libraries will become obsolete. The opposite is what we experience today: libraries have reinvented themselves and accommodate community functions beyond being just repositories of books. Besides embracing the virtual world of the internet libraries are seen as important hubs of education, knowledge sharing, cultural encounters, workplaces and places of regeneration and entertainment.
The competition brief called for an iconic building. Depending on the historical context such buildings are representations of power structures, they have a big impact with their monumental size or they demand attention by being radically new, contradicting their context. Adaptive conformity can also be a statement, where contemporary qualities honor the surrounding history. The ambition of the design was to create a space for mediated encounters between people and ideas: between reader and author, between the researcher and the archived document, between science and its student. To create a meeting place, an ‘agora’ for the people of the city. Therefore, it was intended to be radically different from, while remaining still in conformity with the existing urban fabric.
Most of the volume of the building is beneath the surface: a new public square emerges, sloping gently towards the main square, it is an inviting meeting place itself. It is a public square with covered and green surfaces, even trees. A place to read, a place to meet and discuss, a place to encounter with literature, history, the arts and many more subjects. Its roof becomes the most important facade, where locals and visitors have the opportunity to grab a book, sit down, have a picnic or engage in discussion. The library as a public square is seen as a continuation of the pedestrian zone of the inner city but also welcomes visitors on wheels by offering ample bicycle parking facilities as well.