In Barcelona, I attend Pompeu Fabra University, and I have my classes at the Ciutadella campus. It is here that I managed to stumble upon the majestic campus library, which, upon first glance, seems quite reminiscent of Hogwarts. And to further add to the mystery and compelling nature of this library, it should be noted that it isn’t easy to gain access into the building just by walking outside or around it. And here’s why:
The library, also known as Dipòsit de les Aigües, was designed in 1874 by the architect Josep Fontserè. Originally, it was designed as a reservoir building to store water for the nearby Parc de la Ciutadella.
Fontserè designed a structure with walls a meter thick, which supported arches four meters wide. He perforated the walls in order to reduce the quantity of building materials and labor required. These openings run the height of the walls and are crowned with arches, causing the partitions in the walls to look rather like a series of independent pillars. The building is similar to that found in large Roman reservoirs.
In 1992, the Library of the Juame I building and the Campus Project Office of UPF (which included architects, lawyers, and experts on urban planning) began propositions of building strategies to transform the building into a main library.
The University commissioned the architects Lluís Clotet and Ignasi Paricio, who had previously been involved in work on the building, to produce an outline project with the need to conserve the basement of the Juame I building (in order to provide more space and functionality).
The first stage was in September 1996, and the second stage was in July 1999. At the end of the two stages, the Dipòsit de les Aigües was finally transformed into the Main Library and connected to the Juame I building for access.
In order to bring natural light into the central part of the interior space, the architects introduced a skylight which crosses the vaults of the roof and, in the reservoir, projects up from the surface of the artificial lake like a kind of island. Incredibly, this allows one to feel as if they aren’t completely secluded from the outside, while still offering privacy at the same time.
Truly, the transformation of this grand building into a library is quite wonderful and perplexing to hear and think about. And there’s a certain charisma to the library that owes credit to it’s unique history. Being someone that loves bookstores and libraries immensely, I quickly found this olden library—that I pass by every day on my way to class—to be one of my favorite places in Barcelona. The hushed and ancient ambience of the library provides the perfect place to focus and be productive, while also allowing for a very pleasant and peaceful experience.
In a way, there’s something nostalgic about the library, which I find to be quite charming. If you happen to find yourself passing by and a fit of curiosity hits, I’d advise you to take some time to go and explore it! It’s a lesser known treasure worth discovering!
All information on the history and construction of the library found from the UPF website: https://www.upf.edu/bibtic/es/coneixer/publicac/liber/liber.html
The world awaits…discover it.