REXand Principal in Charge Joshua Prince-Ramus have been named the winner of the BibLLLiotheek competition to build a “Library of the Future” for the city of Kortrijk, Belgium. New York-based REX partnered with landscape architects Bureau Bas Smets in entering the competition, which included both a building and master plan. In making its decision, the BibLLLiotheek jury noted that the REX design was “the most inspiring model,” and praised “the originality of the design approach compared to other design teams.”Winning Proposal in the Kortrijk Central Library Competition byREX
The city of Kortrijk sought to create a library that would combine the functions of a traditional central library with a Life-Long Learning Center and bring in the city’s Music Center as an equal partner. The new combination was named the “LLLibrary.”The city’s proposed site for the LLLibrary, however, was blocked from the cultural axis of the Casinoplein, a prominent Kortrijk public square, by the existing Music Center building. REX proposed shifting the LLLibrary to the Music Center site itself and enveloping portions of the existing building. This move would free up the original site (the Conservatoriumplein) for commercial development, helping offset the capital cost of the LLLibrary project.
The desire for holistic education is often undermined by dividing learning into separate institutions. Typically, media-based learning is assigned to libraries; instructor-based learning is delegated to schools, and practice-based learning is monopolized by performance venues. REX’s LLLibrary aims to heal these divisions by weaving together the cumulative human and technological intelligence of the Library, the Life-Long Learning Center and the Music Center.REX’s design collectively groups the functions of the Library, the Life-Long Learning Center and the Music Center into an enclosed half and a free-plan half, each layered into a linear, educational “Ribbon.”The enclosed functions — classrooms, meeting spaces, offices and auditoriums — are organized within the Ribbon’s interior. The Library’s public space and book stacks form the Ribbon’s free-plan rooftop and can be wholly reconceived as necessary.
Many of the LLLibrary’s subject-area and institutional specialists are now brought together in a zone of concentrated interdisciplinary expertise, named the Synter (Center + Synergy). Located in the heart of the building’s atrium, the Synter will serve as a hub for efficient, in-depth information exchange, and as the gateway to the larger offerings of the Library, the Life-Long Learning Center and the Music Center.And by incorporating the existing Music Center’s auditoriums into the new building,REX’s plan makes cost-effective use of recently renovated performance infrastructure.
REX’s proposal, the jury stated, met all of the BibLLLiotheek award criteria and the “expectations and aspirations of the client.” The jury appreciated in particular that the design resulted in a cultural complex which “fully integrated” the Music Center itself.