Max Dudler’s most recent library building in Heidenheim resembles an abstract of a city skyline. The structure extends between the historic Old Town and the eastern part of the city – characterised by a heterogeneous, post-war architectural style – and unites Heidenheim’s layers of architectural history. In 2013, Max Dudler won the Heidenheim competition for the design of the new building, which was officially inaugurated on 10 November 2017.
The inner city of Heidenheim is characterised by post-war architecture, which is visually distinct from the historical development of the Old Town. Max Dudler’s new library building is situated on the previously inaccessible property of a former penal institution, which has hitherto manifested the division between the small-scale development in the eastern part of the city and the Old Town. The new city library now connects the two areas: As an urban figure, it reflects the many layers of Heidenheim’s architectural history and the scale of the surrounding area by making proportional reference to the gabled buildings in the adjacent Old Town. Between the two “heads” rising into the sky spans an urban landscape made up of smaller “houses”, the layout of which is oriented on the long structure parallel to it. The transformation of the “organic” city results in a sculptural structure, an urban silhouette. In conjunction with the neighbouring St. Paul’s Church and the old town hall, the new building can be seen both as a solitary object and an integral part of the urban context.
The urban setting and formulation of the new building block refers directly to the existing typologies in the inner city, characterised by passages, squares and promenades. With the new urban esplanade on the east side, the new building connects the central bus station in the north with the Town Hall to the south, thus creating a new link and an exceptional urban area. The plant beds, which project into the square, reflect the silhouette of the building in their shape. Between the neighbouring structure and the new building, a passageway emerges as a counterpart to the promenade in the front.
The large-format windows deliberately stand out from the filigree architecture of the surrounding area. With the deep-set soffits, they direct the visitor’s view into the urban space and alternate with finely perforated wall surfaces, which allows filtered daylight into the interior. From the outside, the actual scale of the windows is difficult to gauge, creating an exciting contrast to the expansive wall surfaces. The façade material is light beige brickwork, whose colour references Schloss Hellenstein, which towers above the centre of the town. By using handcrafted water based clinkers, an interplay of lighter and darker shades of beige is created on the façade. The vibrant character of the masonry is supported by the irregular shape of the clinkers and the type of joint mortar. With their relief-like surface texture, the large, closed brick wall surfaces appear restrained in scale. On the end sides of the building and on the ground floor area a perforated-masonry, translucent brickwork is used, which intensifies the sculptural, monolithic character of the building.
The building will house the city library, an integrational café, an event hall, a public media centre and the city archive. The mixture of uses transforms the building into a public place with a certain identity, and this special significance is expressed in its architecture. Located at the newly designed forecourt, the main entrance, which is open to the outside, invites visitors into the foyer that spans the building’s entire height. The various functions are immediately apparent from here. From the entrance foyer, the path leads to the “market square”, or the library, as well as to the large event hall, designed for approx. 160 spectators, and to the district media centre. From the market square, a generous staircase leads to the non-book area of the library on the first floor and to the so-called “promenade” on the second floor, which connects all five high-ceilinged reading rooms. The café at the southern end of the building, which is also accessible from the forecourt, forms another entrance and centre of attraction.
The actual library area is a column-free space continuum; it extends over the entire second floor and forms the distinctive, striking silhouette of the building. A sequence of high library halls and low cabinets creates a captivating sequence of rooms, which, via the more than 110-meter-long promenade, can be experienced at a glance. This arrangement of rooms of alternating heights characterises the reading landscape and creates exciting visual references within the different areas. Two reading terraces on the top floor invite visitors to linger in the fresh air in good weather. All the interior furniture and fixtures were designed by Max Dudler. They are completely white and highlighted with oak accents, e.g. the shelves in the gallery space and the furniture in the information area. A light grey polished concrete terrazzo with locally sourced aggregates was selected for the flooring.
With the City Library in Heidenheim, Max Dudler has constructed his fourth library. Currently he is working on the realisation of two other library buildings: the central library of the Justus Liebig University in Gießen and the extension of the state and city library in Augsburg.