Vitrolles, like many cities on the periphery of great metropolises, grew too quickly. A victim of the urbanization of the 1960s, it went from the status of little Provençal village with about a thousand inhabitants, to a bedroom community comprised of soulless apartment buildings.
The media library project has a dual façade: a ground floor aligned with the street – exterior wall all in glass – an open invitation to enter, and a floor above comprised of a great undulating veil of white concrete with openings resembling lattice work, the whole expressing movement and lightness in a metaphor for reading. The project draws its strength from the contrast of these two faces.
The transparent base opening onto the square offers pedestrians a clear view of the entrance, the exhibition spaces, the café, and the auditorium, causing the building to emerge from its framework. The upper floor, overhanging the sidewalk and the areas of open access to books and materials ensures direct sunlight. Here, where the reading rooms have been designed by the architect with great fluidity (symbolized by the curves) and the treatment of light was given particular attention. Thus, facing the square, the façade has just a few openings because it is oriented southward, and the light sources are placed on the north end to guarantee a homogeneous quality to the direct sunlight.
The kinetic perception of the great veil gives the media library the appearance of changing forms. Depending on the light, on where one is standing, whether it is daytime or nighttime, the building takes on different visages.
The children’s section is located on the ground floor, directly linked with the reception area and the open space. The furnishings design the space and a well of light in the central area guarantees very good illumination. An exterior garden extends the room and offers children the possibility of outdoor activities. The “fairy tale hour” room hovers above the reception area, its shape evoking a star, is a place of dreaming and story-telling. It is the focal point of the composition.
Both the fiction section and the documentation center are located on Level 1 in the same open space. A grand staircase leads to the level of the elegant open corridors that weave the links between the varios spaces.
The floors are open and the positioning of the furnishings can be adapted. Large wells of light on the north end guarantee a quality of light conducive to reading.
Level 2 contains the internal services linked to the reading floors and the entrance by a dedicated service elevator.