The Villanueva Public Library is a stunning example of how local materials can be used to create sustainable and low maintenance buildings. Bogota-based architects, Alejandro Piñol, Germain Ramirez, Miguel Torres, and Carlos Meza, are responsible for the 16,000 square foot public library in Columbia. Former guerrilla fighters from the area worked as part of a rehabilitation program on the library, which is constructed out of locally-sourced river rocks and sustainably harvested pine.
Completed in 2006, the library is composed of two different volumes made from two different materials. The main volume houses the actual library on the first floor and a theater, a children’s library, administrative offices, work spaces and bathrooms on the second. Metal boxes frame each of the program areas inside this main volume and help promote natural ventilation.
The second volume is an outdoor public promenade or plaza shaded by a large roof and supported by tall white columns. This section of the building is clad in slats of pine wood harvested from a nearby sustainably managed forest. Ex-guerillas worked on the project through a rehabilitation and training program, which also helped support the local economy.
Materials were chosen in part to minimize maintenance on the building and ensure that it would remain standing in the intense tropical heat. The library is a beautiful example of how local materials and low-tech techniques can result in stunning design and sustainability.