Biblioteca Tiraboschi by Mario Botta

Bergamo, Italy

Tiraboschi – A New Centerpiece in the Bergamo Library Network

The architectural qualities that characterize so many of Mario Botta's buildings worldwide can also be found in this library: a harmonious and balanced geometric shape, skillfully placed openings in the predominantly solid brick facade, a virtuoso of light inside. Biblioteca Tiraboschi near the university in Bergamo was completed in 2004 based on plans by the Ticino architect Mario Botta.

By way of landmarks, the building serves as the centerpiece of a network formed by several libraries in the city. With a total area of 3,200 square meters and five stories, the building can accommodate 500 reading and working areas and 50 multimedia stations, as well as the necessary space for storage and administration.

 

Light and Space

A lens-shaped courtyard forms the center of the building, a space full of light. Light is the most important element of this building, according to Mario Botta. Daylight trickles down through skylights, and the recessed courtyard leads visitors through building-high glazing into the garden. All the functions are organized around and aligned toward the courtyard; it is the vibrant center of the building. It simultaneously exudes a bright, serene mood as well as the level of focus appropriate to a library. 

The austere cube-shaped exterior does not reveal this rich interior life at first glance. It has a strong, self-contained and downright taciturn presence in the city. Mario Botta, who has made a name for himself with numerous public buildings, such as museums, churches and libraries, suspects that his buildings fulfill people's need for comfort thanks to their compact shape – a feeling that certainly envelopes every user who steps inside this reservoir of books and knowledge in Bergamo. 

Open, Level, Clear Structures

The open floor levels of the library are structured rhythmically with sturdy, round exposed concrete supports. Light colors dominate the picture in the reading and open-access areas: maple wood floors, wood paneling on the ceilings and whitewashed concrete walls. For the library's shelves and tables, the architect selected USM Haller – a system that impresses with its modularity and high stability, especially for library uses. In the Biblioteca Tiraboschi, Mario Botta especially appreciates the rigor and linearity of the USM Haller shelving system, which forms a clear, organizing framework for the more than 2,000 linear meters of books. 

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