Potsdam University’s new library: interplay of natural and mock-granite

Despite the fact that the natural stone branch doesn’t want to admit it, large natural stone surfaces often look drab and boring.

Staab Architekten have come up with an interesting solution realized in the Information-, Communication- and Media Centre of the University (Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum, IKMZ) of Potsdam’s Golm-campus: a single type of stone was used (Angola Black Moonlight ganite) but applied in two different surface finishes in combination with a type of stone facsimile, i.e. glass with stone pattern application.

Beholders discover the trompe-l’oeil only at close proximity. Our photo shows glass with applied stone pattern (left) and the real McCoy in two surface-finishes (right).

At greater distance one can see the necessity of the construction. It serves to filter sunlight, an important asset as the media center is part of the University Library where books are stacked.

Despite its myriad of patterns the relief-façade gives the impression of a monolithic block made of a single material – an impression reinforced by the concealed black mortise-seams and isolation.

A distinguishing factor of the façade is its Airtec Stone System: an 8–10 mm thick-sandwich of stone on 19 mm thick lightweight concrete layers. The construction reduces the mass of the slabs while at the same time allowing slabs of different thicknesses to be affixed to the aluminum substructure. Airtec Stone is an invention of the German-based Lithodecor and has been available on the market for some 15 years. Thin stone slices were realized by Rex Granit Company of Brandenburg.

The impression of a single surface is interrupted by a few large picture-windows behind which reading rooms enjoy the extra sunlight and a view of the landscape. The planners wanted to offer a number of smaller reading rooms as opposed to one large study area. Single reading booths are situated behind each of the glass panes.

More conspicuous than even the picture-windows the tall windows all in a row set a definite accent particularly when the sun-screen-lamellae open up.

In view of so much seclusion, the interior of the building offers a big surprise: the appearance mirrors the multi-faceted exterior but in contrast it is light and – what with its two red and orange stairwells – one might even say colorful.

The stack-room is in the basement. The ground floor houses functional areas such as the issue-desk, information or computers for research work.

Staab Architekten, Berlin

Airtec Stone

Rex Granit

Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum (IKMZ)

(30.04.2014, USA: 04.30.2014)