After five years of construction, architecture firm BOLLES+WILSON has completed the new home for the Bibliothèque National du Luxembourg, a visually striking and energy-efficient building that consolidates the Luxembourg national library’s immense collection of materials and functions. Initiated in 2003 after placing first in an international competition, BOLLES+WILSON’s library design was implemented in nine phases with a planning approach that prioritized energy efficiency and cradle-to-cradle principles wherever possible. Rooftop solar panels and geothermal heat pumps are used to power the 39,000-square-meter structure.

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dark red library building

Located on the main thoroughfare of Avenue John F. Kennedy in the Kirchberg district, the new building for The National Library of Luxembourg draws the eye with its dramatic, angled form. The building is clad in large-format red precast concrete panels and finished with a variety of surface treatments, including acid washing, water blasting and sand blasting.The eye-catching new look goes hand-in-hand with its abundance of public space, which includes reading rooms on multiple floors, relaxation areas, family zones, a music room, numerous work and study stations and more.

Related: LEED Platinum-certified Half Moon Bay Library targets net-zero energy

long dark red library building
long white table and wall of bookshelves in large room with red lighting

The public spaces help to provide a protective buffer to the principle building block: a central and compact archive of over five floors where materials such as the national archives of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are housed. The archive is further “encased in a bastion-like wrapping of stone-filled gabion cages,” the architects explained in a statement. “The architectural intention is homogeneity, a material unity of the overall building volume, with an undercurrent of surface articulation.”

large white room with blue floors and blue chairs
large library space with walls of wood bookshelves and skylights in the ceiling

To meet high environmental standards, the library is engineered to take advantage of thermal mass for passive heating and cooling. Examples range from the strategic opening of windows and skylights at night to circulate cool air via the chimney effect to the careful selection of interior materials for their thermal-absorbing capacities. Geothermal heat pumps installed beneath the foundation plate and rooftop solar panels provide energy via renewable sources.


Photography by Christian Richters via BOLLES+WILSON

library with white shelves and blue floors