b-guided > Barcelona

Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall Library

Ciudad de Barcelona Award, BCQ Arquitectes

By Brian Gallagher, Fotos/Photos; Ariel Ramirez 16.02.15

The Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall designed by BCQ Arquitectes has this year been awarded with first prize in the Architecture and Urbanism category of the Ciudad de Barcelona Awards. In order to mark the occasion we are delighted to publish our article from B-Guided #59 with our review of the building which we first published online back in June of last year. Congratulations to David Baena and Toni Casamor.

Barcelona’s latest public library is a modest but nonetheless compelling building that integrates perfectly with its landscaped setting within the grounds of the Vil.la Florida Civic Centre in the Sant Gervasi neighbourhood. The library burrows into one side of the site becoming an inhabited retaining wall and substrate for the overhead garden which surrounds the villa.  Occupying almost two city blocks the landscaped gardens straddle a change in street level between C/ Muntaner and C/ Sant Gervasi de Cassoles providing a valuable green resource within this densely built-up part of Barcelona. The two storey library building volume is fractured in order to create a series of intimate human scale interior spaces which are organised around three courtyards that bring light deep into the basement area. The book storage and administrative areas are located at the rear of the building at the interface with the retaining wall. A new external stair gives additional public access to the civic centre and gardens. The building envelope is expressed by a zig-zag arrangement of thick battered rendered walls, only two built volumes are legible within the gardens, one providing access and the other accommodating a rooflight over the children’s library below.  

  • Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall

    View of one of the reading room areas from across the external courtyard space

  • Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall

    The roofs of the new library have been planted as an extension of the La Florida Civic Centre park

    Internally the predominantly white spaces are enclosed with surfaces of stacked books, sound absorbing ceilings, expanses of glass and baked clay tiles. The signage and the furniture including the shelving are obviously under the control of architect here, all expertly controlled and subordinate to the overall carved out reading and study rooms that constitute the main architectural thrust here. These spaces are organised in a linear succession and follow the periphery where courtyards oriented towards the north-east introduce indirect natural light providing a very pleasant environment to fulfil the potential this valuable resource has to offer.

  • Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall

    Internal and external wall surfaces have been clad with baked terracota tiles

  • Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall

    Reading room located on the lower level of the new library

  • Biblioteca Sant Gervasi Joan Maragall.
  • Sant Gervasi, Barcelona
  • BCQ Arquitectes
  • 2014
  • www.bcq.es