Berlin architects Ralf Fleckenstein and Katharina Feldhusen ofÂ FF Architekten in collaboration with Martina Wronna have completed a new public library in Luckenwalde, Germany.
The project involved the conversion of a former railway station into a public library and includes an extension to the existing building that houses the childrenâ€™s library.
The inclined walls of this annex are clad in shingles made of a copper-aluminium alloy.
Before conversion work began, the severe deterioration caused by the building standing empty for so long â€“ known from many similar situations â€“ had made its mark on the local environment. In other words, from a town planning perspective, the aim was not only to rescue a heritage-protected building, but also to reinvigorate a central public location in the town. Consequently, a decision was made to move the town library, which was located in a cramped, rather unattractive building, into the former railway station.
Photos by Andreas Meichsner.
Luckenwalde Town Library (D)
MEDIA WORLDS IN A GOLDEN TOWER
As part of extensive renovations and the modernisation of a former railway station in the German town of Luckenwalde in the state of Brandenburg â€“ about 50 km to the south of Berlin â€“, an annex was incorporated into the existing buildings. The project has set a striking example, not only from a town planning point of view. Behind the glittering TECUÂ® Gold faÃ§ade are the childrenâ€™s and youthsâ€™ sections of the buildings that are now used as the town library. In view of the problems in the built-up surroundings of the complex, the shape and design of the faÃ§ade challenges people to consider the potential town development has for change â€“ and, above all, they offer the younger generation an inviting, lively and modern town library.
Luckenwalde is just 30 minutes by train from the centre of Berlin. This close connection to the capital city through the Berlin-Leipzig-Dresden railway line was a result of the dynamic economic developments taking place in the region at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries. Back then, many companies, mainly in the textile industry, chose to settle in Luckenwalde. A well-known architectural heritage of this glorious past is the hat factory built by Erich Mendelsohn between 1921 and 1923.
Numerous innovative residential building projects also contributed to the townâ€™s fame in the Golden Twenties. These days, Luckenwalde is just one of the many small towns in East Germanyâ€™s numerous weak structural regions that have had to combat the known problems of a declining population coupled with growing unemployment and a lack of perspective since the former GDR was reunited with the Federal Republic of Germany. Accordingly, the townscape is characterised by numerous projects for the demolition of empty buildings.
Difficult conditions for new impulses â€“ at least they would have been if Luckenwalde had not been included in the European Unionâ€™s URBAN sponsorship programme â€“ the only small German town to participate. The resources that were made available allowed the capable local government, in collaboration with powerful political decision-makers, to implement many projects in the town. The conversion of the heritage-protected railway building into the town library was the largest of these URBAN projects. The popularity of this project also stimulated the flow of further development funds from the state and national governments.
The renovation of the building and conversion to the town library was carried out by the architect team ARGE WFF in Berlin, who won the competition. The new annex containing the childrenâ€™s and youthsâ€™ library created a self-confident landmark, like a logical conclusion to the successful renovation work that had gone before in the entire group of buildings. The structural shell, which is tilted on two axes and clad completely with glimmering TECUÂ® Gold Shingles, creates a new spatial situation on the station square with an impressive presence that can be seen from the neighbouring KÃ¤the-Kollwitz-Strasse that connects the station with the town centre. The annex is a conspicuous indication of the new function of the former railway station: it stands in the townâ€™s public area like an over-dimensioned showcase.