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Bolles-Wilson: national library of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

From the city ramparts, Bolles-Wilson's New National Library takes its central place in the temporary and predominantly glass skyline of Luxembourg's Plateau Kirchberg. Assembled here is an impressive clutch of civic and cultural monuments--the New Philharmonie (Christian de Portzamparc), law courts (Dominique Perrault, see p76), a museum for modern art (I. M. Pei) and the Place de l'Europe (Ricardo Bofill), which restructures the original 1960 tower and European Union administration buildings. Massive and monumental, the library itself is neither skyline nor foreground. Its middle position casts it in the role of datum giver, a horizontal measure that does not compete with but visually unites background and foreground. The outstretched roof-plane with its recessed, backlit text functions as signal and invitation in the direction of the historic city. The restrained east facade respectfully frames the triangular Place de l'Europe with its central Philharmonie. The entire volume, including the roof, is wrapped in a taut weather-skin of screen-printed glass, and a deep blue/grey under colour shimmers through this opaque membrane. In functional and programmatic terms, Bolles-Wilson's competition-winning scheme reconfigures the eight floor precast concrete grid of the 1960s Robert Schuman Building. Their main move is to excavate and erode the city-facing corner of the original office rectangle to introduce a spectacular five-floor vitrine-like reading room shaded by a huge projecting roof. Two reading-boxes are suspended like fish-tanks in this folded glass surface. From inside, the Grand Duchy's romantic spires and gables fill the panoramic windows. C. S.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Learning
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EULU
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:254
Previous Article:Eva Jiricna: library and congress centre, Zlin, Czech Republic.
Next Article:David Chipperfield: public library, Des Moines, USA.
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