Biblioteca Municipal Vila Franca de Xira

Situated in the North bank of the Tagus River, 15.5 miles from Lisbon and in the place formerly occupied by a rice peeling factory, hence the designation of Factory of the Words.

We considered the following aspects:
– The volumetric characteristics of the ancient factory, as well as its proximity to the River Tagus.
– The proposal of a wider conception of the functions of a Library.
– The execution of a metal bridge, to win the constraining existence of a railway between the city and the library;
– The pretension to build equipment that could respond for an effective use by the several social and age levels of the council of Vila Franca de Xira.

The reading of the volumetric pre-existence allowed a construction in height, and the implementation of the spatial concept, with the objective of turning this Library into a space of effective fruition by a large percentage of the public, regarding social and age aspects.

On the ground floor, near the entrance hall, a multifunctional space can be used as auditorium. In the first storey a cafeteria with a significant surrounding space for daily and periodical reading (newspapers and magazines. This space was intended to become a true lounge of the Library, communicating at this level with a space for exhibitions.

On the second storey an area of considerable dimensions dedicated to children, with the double purpose of familiarizing them pedagogically with this type of equipment.

The third, the fourth and the fifth storeys are destined to reading and multimedia consultation areas, with privacy levels that accompany the altimetric journey, and the top storey is destined to the Deposit/Reserve of the assets of the Library and to the sixth storey was attributed the organizational sector, confirming the functional sequence.

In order to reinforce a more effective relation of the users with the space, the different storeys were overlaid intentionally out-of-sync aiming to guarantee a clear visual contact among them, allowing each one to see and be seen, becoming at once spectator and actor. This “vertical space” is reinforced by an ample triangular window, common to all the storeys, constituting a communication key to the exterior as view window and simultaneously screen of its content.

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This Library does not constitute an end in itself, but a means to attain and end, that is; the intellectual development of the population of the council regardless of their age and social level.

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