The Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library has been operating in the Wenckheim Palace (1889) in the heart of the city since 1931.
The task of designing was to create a city library with reconstruction and expansion, modern in size, functions, services and aspects open to changes.
We added a building built at the end of the 19th century to the acute angled ground plan of the luxurious palace on one side, while we attached a new, 8 storey part of building in the palace of a demolished 2-storey building on the other side. Out of these two a new, 13.000 m2 library complex was created containing 1.100.000 books.
Our architectural concept was to unite 3 buildings of different times and styles in such a way, that the inherited value should get the necessary emphasis, while present and future are both to be faced. The polyphonic features of the building’s are evident in an exciting transparency way.
The connection of the differences regarding the structure, level and architecture is of great importance! The cylinder superficies of the new staircase are "slide" in between the old structural walls; through their openings one can see through, this way the old and the new are connected.
The new library means the concept of being open, it functions on the level of being together in a familiar, cosy atmosphere. Its centre in space is the magnificient atrium overlooking everything, wich was created by the glassed covering of the once inner court of the palace, as well as by the pillars of crosswings hindering opening into each other. This new atrium is a meeting point of the past, present and oncoming future for the readers. This centre is emphasised by exciting palterned stonecovering.
The 8 flored new part of building exempted the spaces of palace from functions of services. We planned modern repository and processing offices on its upper floors. On its lower floors spatious open shelved parts have been created, with mushroom-headed pillars the lighting of which is concealed.
We preserved the open inner court of the building built in the 19 th century. That is where we created the yard with dragons, connected to the children’s library by 2 giant, mythical pieces of plastic art. The court symbolizes the basic concept of the building: how the inner space is related to the outher, the transparency, the homely atmosphere to invite readers. From the reading rooms the inner life of the new part of building that is how people are coming ang going or reading can be watched just like a film through the opposit glasswall.
The reading rooms have been restorated, gleaming in their original beauty with their furniture. With their breathtaking eventulal halls the library is multifunctional.
The materials, form, colours, mobile and built-in furniture and lighting have been selected carefully concentrated on spaces, and connecting spaces within the building complex.
During the 3 years of construction works we made sure that the library was open for readers. After the construction was over in September 2001 readers have shown an exceptionally keen interest ever since.