Not all that glitters is made of Gold

Not all that glitters is made of Gold

Villanueva public library

The fact that a tight budget can be a stimulus for new and creative ideas has been proven by the Public Library in Villanueva, Colombia.

The four young architects Miguel Torres, German Ramirez, Alejandro Piñol and Carlos Meza have graduated together at Javeriana university in Bogotá, Colombia. They are all under the age of 27 and already were able to celebrate their first big success. They have won a national architecture competition on the Villanueva Public Library erected in 2006.The totally new concept the award-winning architects came up with convinces through its sustainable and cost-efficient way of construction. Nearly the whole construction of the Library consists of materials from the region. But also the social and cultural factor was considered by the four young architects, maybe a result from the low budget. They have developed a smart construction system allowing the inhabitants of the city to participate in the construction process.

Simple Building Method with great Results  

A motivating factor for developing this new concept for the library probably were the financial restrictions. So, the architects came up with a compact building with which they were able to keep building and transportation costs low by deploying material from the region, which means timber and chopper in this case. The outcome is a building with a floor area of 3,000 square meters, consisting of two different volumes.

Both volumes are based on different constructions and materials. One volume consists of stones held in wire mesh baskets, so-called gabions, the second volume is made of pine wood. The building parts not only vary in terms of material, but also in their functions. One building part houses the public library and a multi-purpose auditorium, a children’s library, the administrative office, individual work places and rest rooms. This spatial program is expanded by a public, roofed free area in the other volume.

What Villanueva Public Library offersis far morethan just reading books. Citizens of the city were motivated to participate in building the library and the cultural life. In order for local laymen to take part in the construction process the building’s structure required to be held simple. That fact that this was accompanied by a limited formal language did not contradict what the architects had in mind, quite the opposite is true, they wanted to integrate the locals and familiarize them with the new library through deliberately chosen banality. The fact that building costs were reduced was a pleasant side effect.

Social and cultural Aspect

Library Villanueva Public is a symbol of a social and cultural new beginning after the bloody wars in Colombia. It offers a possibility to leave the past behind, a past which was characterized by restrictions, political power games and economical standstill. This library is now a place of social interaction, and the people now also have the possibility of further education and thus to increase the chances of getting jobs.

The increase of motivation does not only work via dry theory, but via physical commitment. This is what this project has shown. Even former inmates participate in workshops to be part of the erection of the building.

Project details


Architects Miguel Torres, German Ramirez, Alejandro Piñol, Carlos Meza


Completed in 2006


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jamesriyadi33's picture
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