The new mediterranean multimedia library

Location: Cagliari
Designer: OP Architetti Associati di Venezia
Project: New Mediterranean Multimedia Library
Time of construction: 2007-2010
Client: Comune di Cagliari - Assessorato lavori pubblici
Coordination: Ing. Patricolo,Ing. Pintor, Ing. Mossa,Comune Cagliari
Work management: Ing. Ibba, Geom. D'Alise, Geom. Iecle, Comune di Cagliari
Building firms: Karalis Vetro - ATI Ing. Pellegrini Srl-IMMA Spa
Curtain walls and steel window and doorframe profiles: Palladio Spa, Treviso
Photos: Fabrizio Palmas, www.fabriziopalmas.com
Over recent years the city of Cagliari has undergone extensive renovation addressed to improving the quality of life in the city and the use of the public spaces by the townspeople.

One of the most interesting projects was the reconstruction and improvement of the former market area, which recently was used as a car park by the residents and the nearby employees of the regional council offices. The project also involved converting an old building into an important public structure that goes beyond the local confines: the Mediterranean Multimedia Library.
Situated in a strategic part of the city near the main entrance to not only Cagliari but Sardinia itself, and also close to the main infrastructures that link the city to the rest of the island, the Mediterranean Multimedia Library (MEM) aims at promoting the culture of books and other media, being a new reference meeting place for the town. It spreads over an area of 7,500 square meters divided over three floors, plus an outdoor area of 800 square meters. The second floor currently houses the archives, while the first floor is entirely dedicated to the library and the ground floor has been designed for maximum use by the public, with the opportunity of a whole range of cultural, commercial and educational initiatives, such as meetings, conventions, temporary exhibitions, installations, or the newspaper library, film library, recreation centre and much more besides. However, the undisputed protagonist of the entire project and the feature that distinguishes the Multimedia Library as a meeting place is the courtyard, which all the internal rooms overlook through the large windows that frame the perimeter.
During the reconstruction, all the areas were redesigned with a more rational layout, and the entire building was demolished with just the outer walls conserved. The decision then to organise the complex around the courtyard is not only more innovative but also solved the bioclimatic problems, reducing the glazed surfaces that were exposed to direct sunlight, and guaranteeing greater privacy to the surrounding residential buildings. The facades around the courtyard are formed of large windows measuring approx. 4 x 2 meters, made from steel uprights and transoms with an aluminium clicked on cover. This system enables creating very large windows, which improve interaction between the multimedia library and the bustling lively area of the outside courtyard, making the entire construction much brighter inside, and reducing the construction costs. The external area is partly covered by a strong glass and steel roof, which also offers weather protection and filters the natural light, which therefore never directly penetrates the rooms inside the multimedia library. The internal courtyard is a cool and calm oasis, protected by the steel roof that enables controlling and carrying the air into the courtyard to create a very pleasant climate even in the hottest months. Originally the project also provided a roof structure supported by a series of trusses, but the last solution preferred the installation of a roof with the same steel frames as the glass modules which form the primary and secondary self-supporting weave for the roof, without the need for any bearing structures beneath.
The new courtyard has an elongated form, which widens towards the middle to mark the central area of the main entrances to the multimedia library, and then extends in two covered corridors that join it to the two pedestrian squares at the ends. The courtyard, with the lights, colours, places for studying and meeting, is hidden from the outside behind a building without any windows, which only reveals to the excellent cultural tourists the wealth of this construction dedicated entirely to the townspeople.

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