National Library of the Czech Republic – Prague

Design of the National Library 


Location: Prag, Tschechische Republik
Client: Národní knihovna – National Library of the Czech Republic
Typology: Cultural building / Public building
Area: 52.000 m²
Period of time: 2006
Procurement: International Architectural Design Competition
Project partner: Scheffler + Partner Architekten BDA with OCEAN NORTH


The competition proposal for the New Czech National Library in Prague, a collaborative project of OCEAN NORTH and Scheffler + Partner, seeks to provide both a singular monolithic appearance for one of the key buildings of Czech culture, as well as a continuous and gradient spatial experience of the building and adjacent landscape of the site. The overall building volume is structured to be at the same time contained and open, confined and continuous, providing differentiated spatial experiences for visitors and employees alike. The scheme is understood as one of several landscaped sites that together form a network of adjacent events, differentiated spatial provisions and scenic spots.

The distinctive tectonic articulation of the cantilevering volumes is developed through generative computational processes driven by spatial and structural criteria. In an analytic procedure the stress distribution within the envelope of a specified volume is evaluated and mapped as a vector field of principal forces. According to this structural information, combined with other parameters such as for instance the angle of incident of sunlight, view axes and spatial characteristics, a network of merging branches is derived.  The resulting changing opacity and permeability of the building envelope that ranges from the opaque and solid national archive to the gradient density of the cantilevered envelopes‘ structural skin and the open access to public landscape provides a wide range of spatial and microclimatic situation that facilitate and enable both, the high level of organisational control required for a library building and the heterogeneous conditions enabling zones of migrating activities and intensified individual experience of inhabiting space and enjoying the various media and the social dynamic of the library.