Bibliothèque de Montpellier

The Project
When designing the Montpellier library, the C+H+ architecture agency recalled a definition by L. Kahn: ‘A library is a reader who chooses a book from the shelves and moves towards the light to read it’.

The organization of the building reflects the urban issues induced by the site, climatic conditions related to orientation and the library’s reasons for being:  storing documents under totally controlled conditions, providing brightly lit reading spaces for the public.

In the South, the architects located a building that affords protection against the sun’s rays. The facade, consisting of a reinforced concrete shell, exterior insulation and a sandblasted concrete facing, contains small windows enabling natural lighting of the stores.

In contrast, the North facade is endowed with great transparency. It houses all the libraries and public areas, which thus receive constant and diffused light from the North.

The Pilkington Insulight™ VISI glazing that composes the façade subdues the light and affords readers the soft lighting that encourages concentration in the calm, protected, studious areas. The opening or closure of the blinds incorporated in the glass volumes enables ongoing modulation of the facade.

An overall view of the library to the public

The covered North-South road offers an overall view of the library to the public: the free platforms of the public spaces to the North, the deployment of the access ways in the central cleft and the mineral volume of the stores to the South. All the public stairways and elevators are deployed in that volume.

Once the reader has crossed the reception hall (information, registration, document loans/returns), he/she has free access to the panoramic ramps and elevators of the central space enabling access to all the libraries in compliance with a patent vertical hierarchy: the higher the reader rises, the more the libraries are oriented towards studious reading, research and light.
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Project Details
Surface Area
860 m²
Montpellier (34)
Opening Date
Building Type
  • Education
About the Architect/Installer
Paul Chemetov et Borja Huidobro, C+H+ Architectes
Benefit Led Categories
  • Special Applications