The new European Library of Information and Culture (BEIC) is not a traditional library, where the treasures of a culture can be stored and made accessible for the future, but a laboratory, where to develop the tools necessary to produce contemporary culture.
The new library exposes its productive atmosphere already in its physical conformation. The new building consists of two naves with a trapezoidal cross-section, extensively glazed, forming an explicitly industrial figure, part greenhouse, part station, part factory. The building appears as a large laboratory, sober, busy, open, ambitious, a Officina Milanese (Milanese workshop) entirely at the service of a multiple but concrete cultural life, where learning processes are always also an opportunity to construct objects, to invent devices, to make things.
The new BEIC is a simple, compact building: the two naves accommodate the two main parts of the program: the northern volume houses the Forum, the southern one the Departments. The two naves are the same in terms of envelope, but different in content: the first is lighter and open towards the square, the second more dense, reserved and silent. The two volumes give shape to a double, yet unitary building. The two bodies are in fact united by a continuous ground floor, which contains the entrance spaces, the exhibition and event spaces, the accesses to the vertical circulation and are strategically connected to the various levels. The two main volumes are flanked by a smaller volume to the south-east, which houses the auditorium and the Imaginarium. The robotic storage is at the centre of the building, on the basement floors, and effectively serves all parts of the library. The Forum spaces, in the northern volume, have variable inter-floor heights; the spaces in the southern volume have constant heights. At its top, the northern volume houses a large greenhouse populated by pavilions; the southern volume opens into a terrace enclosing the reading room open at all hours of the day.
The two naves are entirely clad in a uniform metal and glass envelope, emphasising the iconic and unified volume, while at the same time allowing light to be captured and solar energy to be stored in the most appropriate way for the different local conditions. The volume containing the auditorium in the basement and the Imaginarium is a simple stepped pavilion, entirely enveloped in the vegetation of the terraces that mark it out as it approaches the pergola that stretches over the roof garden.
From a climatic point of view, the large entrance space, the full-height space housing the vertical circulation and the greenhouse at the top of the northern volume form a large Wintergarten, naturally ventilated in summer and capable of storing solar energy in winter.