The Silesian University is currently housed in a complex of buildings adapted from the facilities of the former Teachers' Training College. This unpremeditated development did not suitably reflect the prestige of this institution which is well-renowned throughout Poland. Thus, the design of the new library has become a catalyst for establishing a new campus redevelopment plan to be implemented in the coming years.
Located at the intersection of the east-west axis that forms the spine of the campus, and the north-south axis which connects the recreational grounds by the river to land set aside for further university expansion, the library reinforces the axial organization which has so far been poorly articulated. A central university square at the foot of the library, the FORUM, generates a civic gathering place that opens onto the library's grand three storey atrium.
The height of the library has been determined by the average height of buildings on the university campus. The north elevation surpassing this height is directed towards the FORUM and houses the library's closed stacks. This elevation emphasizes the rank and function of the FORUM and is in dialogue with the existing tall buildings which close the east-west axis.
The facades, clad in a repetitious fabric of rich kahan red sandstone, relate to the raw clay bricks on the neighbouring buildings without the connotation of scale inherent to a singular brick element. The exterior treatment abstracts the building's function of organized book storing while introducing a notion of mystery inseparably connected to books.
The lack of discernible scale produces a monolith when seen from afar that is gradually familiarized. Details such as the decreasing proportions of the facade tiling, the irregular cut of the sandstone slabs, as well as the windows carefully nested inside become visible.
The fenestration projects a stunning patchwork of light onto the FORUM at night, yet in the daytime allows diffused light to permeate into the library's reading rooms. The resulting strongly introverted interior composition of the library floors focuses one's attention onto the books while calming the space. Partial isolation from the external world not only influences the atmosphere within but also introduces a flow of time detached from the pulse of the surrounding city.