ravaged by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in 2010, the small coastal town of constitucion, chile, has been steadily rebuilding, featuring the recently finished public library of constitucion by local architect sebastian irarrazaval. the library is located along one of the edges of the central square, a site that holds civic and cultural importance to the town and elicits an opportunity to rethink a structure’s relationship to the public realm.

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the street-side facade features three glass-clad wooden naves opening to each section of the library
image © felipe díaz contardo (also first image)

 

 

three glass-clad wooden naves face the plaza allowing views both into the building and from within the building, establishing a constant connection between people and the books inside, while benches and shading at the foot of each nave provide public seating for the community. irarrazaval elevated the first floor 1.6 meters above the street to get natural light into both levels of the library and offer various vantage points to the exterior/interior. each wood-framed hall corresponds to the three main programmatic elements of the building: the children, young adult, and adult book sections, representing a clear spatial organization. 

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
view from the central square
image © felipe díaz contardo

 

 

with the exception of the exposed concrete fire walls, the entire structure is made of light and heavy timber. beams and columns are left as exposed as possible to allow for a structural understanding of the design, stout cross-bracing elements clearly show each plate and bolt connecting wood, to steel, to the concrete foundation. thin wooden planks create a louvered system that covers the sky lit pitched roofs, filtering and controlling direct light so as not to disturb the readers inside. custom made furniture serves multi-purpose functions, offering various seating arrangements, tables, and shelving in one fixture.

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the naves open up to allow plenty of natural light and a spacious, airy feel looking out onto the plaza’s trees
image © felipe díaz contardo

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the exposed structure becomes part of the interior design, showing each piece that holds the building up
image © felipe díaz contardo

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a ramp spans the length of the building passing in front of each nave
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
custom-designed furniture fits within the context of the design, offering multi-function uses
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
the elevated first floor enjoys views of the exterior
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
the slatted roof controls direct light quality and forms a textured ceiling
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
views from staircases help activate the interior space
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
at night, the naves are illuminated from the interior to create an iconic form along the central square
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
image © felipe díaz contardo

sebastianirarrazaval_libraryofconstitution
the library keeps a subtle profile along the street, fitting within the context of the neighborhood’s scale
image © felipe díaz contardo

 

 

 

 

project info:

 

 

name of the project: public library of the constitution
architect: sebastian irarrázaval
collaborators: macarena burdiles, carlos pesquera, alicia arguelles, sebastián mancera.
technical inspection: joel barrera
promoters: fundación la fuente, banco itau and arauco
owner: municipality of constitución
structural engineer: cargaz
constructor: proessa
built area: 350 m2
location: constitución, chile
year of the project: 2011
year of completion: 2015
photographer:  felipe díaz contardo

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