National Library, Warsaw
Warsaw, Al. Niepodległości 213
Polish National Library, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Poland)
KONIOR STUDIO, Tomasz Konior, Dominik Koroś
General contractor: Prochem S.A.; Installations: WhiteMoose,Eltrim Projekt
MES, Arkadiusz Jakubowski, PKBI
WhiteMoose. Eltrim Projekt
The National Library building was designed in the 1960s by architect Stanisław Fijałkowski and his team. Changing requirements over the years regarding storage and access to collections as well as the technical conditions of the building itself necessitated its modernization in terms of reading rooms and public spaces. In 2015, a two-stage architectural competition was held, which selected the winning work by Konior Studio.
Already at the stage of the competition, the analyses conducted showed that the unified language of modernist architecture carries certain limitations. Modularity and repetition introduce order, but without putting accents in the right place, the uniform space remains incomprehensible and illegible. The main idea became to make the National Library building, while retaining all its previous advantages and modernist character, more intuitive, ergonomic and ecological. We decided to give the interiors of the reading rooms a new, proper hierarchy and, through the natural materials used, to emphasize their rank. The most important place of the new reading rooms is the central space located at the intersection of the main entrance and reading room axes. Seeking the right proportions and scale, a skylight-covered, two-story zone was designed in place of the existing courtyard V and fan room. The result is an ennobling, tall space illuminated by natural light, which not only defines the new character of the interiors but becomes the main point of reference.
In addition to being the treasury of our knowledge and identity, the National Library is a place where readers work with collections. It became a priority to meet the highest acoustic, lighting and ergonomic parameters. A key aspect of building a sense of comfort has also become the new arrangement of interior patios and opening them to readers.