Pärnu Library

Pärnu Library

3+1 architects
Pärnu , Estonia | View Map
Project Year
Kaido Haagen

Pärnu Library

3+1 architects as Architects

Pärnu’s central square was planned following World War II for the location of the Old Town, reduced to ruins. The new library located along the trajectory of Pikk tänav completes the Stalinist plans that were unfinished in their day, and connects the square in front of the theatre with the moat. It is integrated with the Stalinist ensemble; and at the same time, one end extends all the way to the ruins of the commander’s castle, which dates from the earliest era of foreign conquest in Estonia. The purpose of the building is to add more cultural life and compactness to the existing unfocused space, while breaking up the rigid linear symmetry characteristic of Stalinist planning.

The library is surrounded by a different environment on all sides and small local open plazas have been created on each side, which also correspond to the division of the functions inside the library. Much attention has been paid to purpose-driven function and planning of the interior, creating a non-hierarchical spatial system. The backbone of the building is comprised by a system of stairs and ramps that extend through the whole building and as it descends, opens into different library halls. The ramps and stairs extend outward from the building as open common spaces, each with a different appearance. The views from the different levels and the sloping surfaces that jut into the building create a coherent space that “flows” through the building – from the central square to the baroque-era moat. Most importantly, the public urban space continues through the library building, or more precisely the library itself becomes a part of the city space. The other important aspect is the way in which it provides insight into the context of the city space: the building is located with an overhanging corner right above the former commander’s castle.

The library is completely covered with shiny glass, allowing one to perceive through the facades its “belongingness” to the city. The main structural innovation related to the library function is the fact that all books are on open shelves – the public can freely stroll the stacks and browse the volumes. It is perhaps akin to an ordinary supermarket – shelves upon shelves where it is as easy as possible to find the product (book) you are looking for. The only major difference is that here no one is compelling you to buy anything. The modern library is becoming more and more user-friendly, a fluid event space.

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