Construction has begun on a library designed by OMA in Caen, Northern France

Construction has begun on the Bibliothèque Multimédia à Vocation Régionale (BMVR), a four-story, 13,000 square meter public library in the city of Caen. Completion is scheduled for early 2016.

The building’s X-shaped layout — arts to the northeast, and science and technology to the northwest, humanities to the southeast, literature to the southwest — helps users to navigate the library’s 150,000 volumes. The ground floor lobby acts as a public plaza, visually and physically connecting the waterfront with the park. The first floor houses a fully transparent reading room with unobstructed views to the water and the city.

The library’s building site is opposite that of the future Tribunal de Grande Instance, and in the middle of the new urban masterplan zone, which will revitalize the old industrial port area. The BMVR links four main landmarks of the city of Caen — l’Abbaye aux Hommes, l’Abbaye aux Dames, the train station and a new urban development — and itself forms a bridge between the city’s past and its future.

Clement Blanchet, OMA associate-in-charge, stated:

“This library is a symbol of the lateral thinking of the 21st century. Its form is based on an almost primitive action: two lines crossing, generating a centrality which groups four polarities. It is an agora of ideas, a place that might reinforce the role of books in an increasingly digitized world.”

OMA has recently won three major competitions in France: the Parc des Expositions in Toulouse; the École Centrale in Saclay, outside of Paris; and Begles Villenave, a masterplan in Bordeaux