Prague, Czech Republic
The proposed library is an allegorical treatment of a historical event. At the unveiling of the Jan Hus monument in Prague’s Old Town Square in 1915, no speech or ceremony was permitted given the political climate of the time. Hus, a religious reformer, had become a symbol of resistance to outside powers. Citizens responded by enveloping the statue in carpet of flowers. Covering the monument was a quiet acknowledgement of its significance, simultaneously concealing the artwork while conveying a shared understanding of the value of what is hidden. In the proposed library, an ephemeral cover of metal plates, mesh, and glass conspire to envelop the striated stone clad volume of the Czech National Archive. Responding to the varied nature of activities within the library, the malleable system of enclosure regulates the entry of light into the main hall while conveying the character of the multi-faceted activity within.

Placed near the north end of the site, the National Archive addresses indoor and outdoor civic space while anchoring the library organization. Public and private auxiliary programmatic elements are stacked vertically east of the Archive. Entry occurs from a plaza at the north end of the site, through a tall, narrow opening between the cascading arrangement of metal and glass clad volumes and stone encased Archive. A second entry, along the East edge facing a park, converges with the plaza access in the main library hall. Large ramps slope up to the second level with various study and seating areas along the path.
Above the second level, on a series of varied floor plates open within the main hall, elements of the program are placed. At higher levels access is more controlled, with open stacks at levels two and three, attended stacks at level four, and private government use at level five.
The National Archive is a strong presence in the main hall, defining the north edge of the room and remaining visible from the multiple levels. Staff circulation passes through the Archive, linking the various levels of background uses with the vertical circulation to additional storage below grade.
The reading rooms, with sound control requirements, are placed in a linear glazed volume along the west edge which cantilevers over a portion of the entry plaza. Auxiliary public uses are stacked vertically at the northeast corner of the building, with terraces and views of the park from the café, restaurant, and multi-purpose spaces.
The faceted library hall enclosure permits varying degrees of natural light infiltration, with a more open feel at the circulation and reading spaces and more enclosed at the library stacks.
The recessed glazed end of the library hall overlooks the park to the south with views skirting over the tree tops.

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