Urban Artefact

authors Walter Angonese, Schiefer Tschöll Architektur
project Library in Kaltern / Caldaro, South Tyrol, Italy

If we are to believe those who study trends, the future will see a return to values. The population will try to relate to the familiar and accepted values, while the community will again assume an important role. In local environments, the social and cultural value of the communal structures will increase and they will no longer be perceived only as public services.
Public libraries have a special role: from their very inception in ancient Egypt, libraries have not only been places of gathering, collecting and cataloguing written documents and books, i.e. collecting, transferring and promoting knowledge, but indicators of social and cultural development as well. Their presence in a town or a country reveals the importance a society has attached to its culture or knowledge. Although a library of a small town like Kaltern cannot document the complete knowledge of a place in books or other media, it remains a significant indicator of political, educational and cultural tendencies of the community. Our conceptual approach shapes the basis of this fundamental assumption. We believe that a library does not only need to serve its institutional purpose, but, as a piece of architecture, have a special position in the city.
We thus think that the construction of the library today should not be done only programmatically, but iconically as well (as a house of books or other media), structurally linked to the historical centre. It is an icon that might be perceived by those beyond the typical target group; it could attract their interest, curiosity and wish to enter the building, thus allowing new roles, even different synergies in social coexistence (the young meeting the old, local population socialising with the tourists, books read over coffee, etc.)
We also believe that it can be a building of strong architecture, as we need not fear a prominent structure, representing time within a historical centre. The previously mentioned public and institutional role also support it, as well as the semantic message to the community as an exceptional social value represented by iconic architecture.