FROM HISTORY TO OURSTORYJune 4, 2019
Hubland Library is a new branch of the Stadtbücherei Würzburg, established at a former US Army base in Hubland, Germany. This delightfully unexpected combination of former military base and library turned into an inclusive place offering an experience that embraces the area’s history as a new story to be told.
The challenge was introducing the library as part of the neighborhood from the very beginning. Seamlessly integrating a completely new library into a historic location meant carefully considering the community. Through the human-centered method of design thinking, intense workshops led to the library’s very own concept: for its users, by its users. The results of a Design Thinking process by Julia Bergmann ensured an optimal adaption to the Würzburg community.
In German, the word “Geschichte” means both history and story. The goal was to connect the community to the history of this place while empowering them to tell their own new story. Located on a hill by Würzburg, Hubland’s altitude enabled many flight experiments. Hot air balloons, zeppelins and airplanes all took flight from Hubland; there was even a flight school. The German Air Force built a small air base during World War II. However, after WWII it became a military base for the US Army, then named Leighton Barracks. As part of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service modernizing the area, it also became home to the largest American shopping mall in Europe in 1988, a key regional shopping area for Eastern Germany. The base was returned to German control only as recently as 2008.
Connect the community to the history of this place while empowering them to tell their own new story
From the gruesome times of war to flourishing capitalism and revival, Hubland has seen it all. With a nod to its true history, the new library borrowed some inspiration from the area’s past. Now, design features playfully wink at Hubland’s US Army and aircraft roots. Three eye-catching ‘specials’ include: a coffee car in a luggage vehicle on the ground floor, designed as a central meeting point, a life-size air balloon for kids to hide in and a piece of custom craftsmanship… a massive UFO for group sessions at the basement. Hubland Library also offers various stages for play and performance, a coffee zone, a giant reading table/makerspace, smaller reading/relax cocoons, a work bar, a space for kids to climb, clamber and play, a kitchen for parents (to warm up their baby’s milk bottle for instance), and more. Like a landscape, the interior offers various places to stay, hangout and discover. It is dynamic in height, depth and shape so that it looks like something that has evolved over time.
READY. STEADY. LIFT OFF.
Hubland Library relies on the Open Library concept, which means that the library is also accessible outside staffed hours; everyone with a library card has access to the library between 7am and 10pm. Anja Flicker, Director Stadtbücherei Würzburg, explains: “Contemporary library work takes people’s living realities into focus. For example: we learned from local adolescents that they desire to chill in privacy with peers, and not as we thought, in a noisy action area. This knowledge led to providing the basement with a more secluded gaming zone, cocoons to hang out in and a UFO to offer an opportunity for retreat as well as for discoveries. By closely involving the residents in the development process, a sense of pride in being involved and great enthusiasm is created in the neighborhood. We strive for everyone to feel at home here.” Steadily rooted in its past, Hubland Library is now an inclusive third place ready to take off into the future.
By closely involving the residents in the development process, a sense of pride in being involved and great enthusiasm is created in the neighborhood.
Hubland Library (Stadtbücherei Würzburg) is a co-creation of includi (design concept, strategy, art direction) – team: Aat Vos, Hélène IJsselstijn, Eunice Ma – and dossler.design (engineering).
In collaboration with: FacilitylinQ (supplier of the freestanding new, modern furniture, Art-Army AS Oslo (Claude Wittwen, scenic painting and decoration), Julia Bergmann Training & Consulting (Design Thinking), Schmiede Neunzehn (Georg Weidauer, metal artist, UFO, coffee bar, metal objects, Polsterwunsch Meisterwerkstatt (Janina Schraud, upholstery furniture, hot air balloon, curtains, cloth covers room divider), KAPUZE Grafikdesign (Christoph Ulherr, mural) and bibliotheca (Open Library concept, selfCheck 500 and open+ system).
Photography: Marco Heyda