Check out the A&B portal!

New Horizon Library in Krasnik - a place for passion and ideas

17 of January '24

The concept of new libraries has been conquering many Polish towns and cities for some time - the idea of a place that is more than a lending library. The new small cultural centers are meant to create new spaces, following the idea of a "third place." This idea can be complemented by the interior, as exemplified by the library in Kraśnik.

The New Horizon Library in Kraśnik of the GK-Atelier project was intended to be more than a book lending library. The two-tone design, along with the introduction of new spaces, was to be a creation conducive to creating something more.

projekt aranżacji wnętrz jest częścią większego założenia obejmującego modernizację całej biblioteki.

The interior design project is part of a larger assumption involving the modernization of the entire library

© GK-Atelier

Grzegorz Kloda of GK-Atelier talks about the design process, the creation of libraries, the idea of third places, and the unusual color scheme of the New Horizon Library

Wiktor Bochenek
: The library in Kraśnik has undergone a metamorphosis, what was the initial state of the place?

Grzegorz Kloda: The interior design project is part of a larger project involving the modernization of the entire library. It included thermal modernization, replacement of windows with more energy-efficient ones, photovoltaics, modernization of internal installations so that the facility is energy efficient.

An important point was also the adaptation of the entire building for people with disabilities, for which purpose, among other things, an elevator was installed. As a studio, we are responsible for the interior design project and the name of the new library. In the future, it is planned to carry out new landscaping in the immediate vicinity of the library - a band shell, a playground and recreation areas.

realizacja ma odwoływać się do koncepcji „trzeciego miejsca”

The implementation is to refer to the concept of "third place"

© GK-Atelier

: In the project it was important to refer to the concept of "third place" as defined by Oldenburg. What does it consist of?

Gregory: Very often the idea of the third place is presented very superficially. Namely, the third place as a place of rest from home and work. This is correct, but it definitely does not exhaust the assumptions of this fantastic idea. For me, one of the most important aspects of it is the possibility for local activists and community members to initiate processes. That is, a library designed according to this idea is not just a place to rest from work and home, but a place where I can realize my passions and ideas.

If someone has the energy to act and the desire to share it with other locals then a modern library will provide the space to do so. Why will it do so? Because it has such a space and it is adaptable, easy and quick to transform. I call it a 15-minute space, referring to a 15-minute city. This is the kind of space that characterizes a contemporary library, especially one inspired by the idea of the third place, and processes and activities can be initiated by both librarians and library users.

I believe that the idea of the third place should be a mandatory inspiration in the design of all public spaces, even those related to administration or health care. Everything that surrounds us is naturally subject to change whether we want it or not. Architecture has it that it very easily duplicates and perpetuates unnecessary patterns and stereotypes. Especially public architecture, unfortunately.

współcześni projektanci mają ważną rolę - walczyć ze stereotypami i wychodzić poza schematy

Contemporary designers have an important role - to fight stereotypes and go beyond the patterns

© GK-Atelier

Today's libraries have to respond to many more needs than book lending. What are the functions of the new library and how did this affect the arrangement?

Gregory: As an architect who deals extensively with public spaces including, of course, libraries, I searched for a very long time for a definition that would describe a modern library 100 percent.

Such a definition does not exist, and any attempt to define a library and lock it into a specific framework works against it. Until 20 years ago, all public libraries in Poland looked very similar. Their only function was actually to store and provide access to books, and library spaces were one big zone of silence. At the moment, of course, the public library is still a temple of books, which in my opinion will never change, but in addition - a local cultural center.

przestrzenie biblioteki mają pozwalać na więcej aktywności

Library spaces are supposed to allow more activity

© GK-Atelier

Quiet zones have almost completely disappeared and life has emerged, and users have begun to see libraries as attractive places for meetings and entertainment. As for additional functions and activities, in the modern library they are limited only by the imagination of librarians. At the same time, we must remember that libraries operate locally, and local communities differ.

We cannot unreflectively transfer solutions from library to library, even though they worked well in locality X. In locality Y, the community may be completely different, expectations diametrically opposed. That's why every library project must be preceded by research into the expectations of the locals - their demographic potential or other environmental conditions. For this reason, very often inspiration for libraries is sought locally, and I always say that a modern library must be understandable to indigenous people, the rest may wonder what it's all about, that's not a bad thing. I would even say that it can provoke very interesting situations that stimulate the imagination. That's what design is all about.

nowa przestrzeń miała być miejscem, gdzie można realizować moje pasje i pomysły.

The new space was meant to be a place where you can realize your passions and ideas

© GK-Atelier

: What is worth noting about this realization?

Grzegorz: An interesting phenomenon in the context of the New Horizon Library is that I very often hear someone say about it: "this colorful library". Why is this interesting? Because in designing it, we used only two colors, turquoise and powder pink.

There are, of course, stronger accents like curtains or wallpaper, but I consider them in terms of details, not the whole. So where did the colors come from? From the spines of the books. Having designed libraries for 10 years, I know very well that you have to be careful with colors in a library. We once designed a white library, which at the design stage seemed very cold and sterile, but as soon as we started throwing books into the model, we quickly found that a whole feast of colors entered the shelves along with them and greatly warmed the whole project.

idea nowej biblioteki opierana była przede wszystkim o badania oczekiwań mieszkańców

The idea of the new library was based primarily on a survey of residents' expectations

© GK-Atelier

It's important to remember this and keep it in mind, because as designers we are completely out of the picture. The colorful ribbons of books simply are and will live on as users borrow books. Personally, I don't even think we should show investors visualizations of library interiors without books on the shelves. Besides, would anyone design a car dealership without cars? It mustn't be done, because books are a constant traveling rainbow on the shelves, which, if we forget about it, will do what it wants with our design. Many publishers treat the spines of books almost the same as their covers.

If we put the volumes next to each other in the right order, we will find that the spines form a picture or represent some kind of coherent story. I think that the colors we used go beyond the usual thinking about libraries, which is why we pay so much attention to them, the rest of the coloring book is filled with a rainbow of books.

w kolorystyce wnętrza dominują dwa odcienie: turkus i pudrowy róż

The color scheme of the interior is dominated by two shades: turquoise and powder pink

© GK-Atelier

: Can a properly designed space help libraries regain their, somewhat lost in the era of new media, popularity ?

Grzegorz: Of course it can. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that a process of raising the profile of libraries is currently taking place in Europe. Libraries are steadily and consistently strengthening their position in the market of cultural institutions, and reading is getting sexier, as statistics show.

A modern library, especially one designed in accordance with the idea of a third place, is very different from the stereotypical one, which, unfortunately, has become quite firmly and widely ingrained in our heads. The problem is exacerbated when people who do not study the subject of the modern library take charge of library design and propose (which happens in 9 out of 10 cases of new libraries) a typical office-bank architecture that perpetuates the aforementioned stereotypes. One of the primary functions of libraries has always been to stimulate the reader's imagination, and this is what their architecture should be, without dividing them into interiors or volumes. The typical office-bank space, with its division into office cubicles and rigid banking zones significantly limits the possibilities for creative librarians to organize personalized activities, and this is insanely important in a modern library.

istotne było ucieknięcie od wystroju typowo biurowo-bankowego, który często króluje w takich przestrzeniach

It was important to get away from the typical office-bank décor that often reigns in such spaces

© GK-Atelier

Such architecture does not help, in fact it hinders. Being invited to various conferences or lectures, I always make it clear, great interior design, yes will attract new users to the library, but what or who keeps them is the librarian and his or her creative activities. We, as modern designers, have an important role, to fight stereotypes and to go beyond the patterns. That's all it takes, and that's all it takes to not hinder librarians and libraries in this wonderful process of "raising the profile of libraries."

: What makes you most proud of this project, and what was the biggest problem?

Gregory: The biggest problem was the budget and the time in which the project took place. We knew that we had 800,000 zlotys for implementation and there would be no more. The situation was not made easier by post-pandemic times and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. It was hard to estimate costs, as prices changed literally from day to day. On the other hand, thanks to quick reactions, wise decisions and good communication on the investor-contractor-designer line , the investment was successfully completed.

What I am proud of is the fact that I was right about the inspiration. Inspiration without precedent. An inspiration so obvious that I dare say, unwanted by anyone. I would also like to thank coordinator Dorota Dziewa and director Michal Zimowski, who placed their trust in me and gave me a free hand.

największym problemem był budżet oraz terminy

The biggest problem was the budget and deadlines

© GK-Atelier

We spent many hours together analyzing the needs of local users, which were diagnosed virtually perfectly, and this ultimately allowed us to create the New Horizon Library in such a fantastic shape. I always try to stay in touch with the libraries I have designed in order to be able to objectively assess what has worked for us and what has not. The statistics in Krasnik speak clearly - the number of users after the renovation is steadily increasing, and the readership is doing well.

Tours from all over Poland and even abroad come to Kraśnik to visit the library's interior. This also shows that innovative and friendly public spaces do not at all have to be the domain of big cities and even bigger budgets. The New Horizon Library is an example of high-quality public space on a local scale.

Wiktor: Thank you for the interview.

biblioteka miała wychodzić poza tradycyjne schematy, służyć mieszkańcom w wielu miejscach

The library was meant to go beyond traditional schemes, to serve residents in many places

© GK-Atelier

interviewed Wiktor Bochenek

The vote has already been cast