Vitrolles is located just behind the Marseille airport, around 15 kilometers northwest of the port city in the south of France. After the Second World War, the place suffered the same fate as so many suburbs of the French metropolises: rapid growth and development with soulless large apartment buildings that did not follow a clear urban vision. Between 1960 and 2000 alone, the population increased tenfold; today almost 35,000 people live in Vitrolles.
In the middle of one of these post-war residential areas, on an arterial road south of the city center, is the new media library designed by the Parisian architect Jean-Pierre Lott. In 2012 he won a design competition for the new building. The media library is a solitaire among solitaires, but in terms of form, it is radically differentiated from the bars, cubes, and high-rise buildings in the surrounding residential area. Only the ground floor and the mezzanine above follow the straight course of the street with their glass front.
Above this, the first floor cantilevers with a wave-like swinging, largely closed facade made of white concrete. Inside, the building has four full floors. The lending desk, the children’s department, a lecture hall, a café, and exhibition areas are located on the ground floor. The café, auditorium, and exhibition area are designed in such a way that they can also be used separately after the library closes.
By far the largest part of the open access is on the first floor; also several workrooms and a wood-covered open terrace behind the amoeba-like concrete screen. The second, recessed upper floor houses the administration offices, and archive rooms have been set up in the basement. The right angles that still exist on the entrance facade are completely receding in the interior; the bold curve of the parapets, flights of stairs, lending counters, and partition walls dominate here. In order not to create visual chaos, the room surfaces, with the exception of the floor, are kept uniformly white.
Daylight comes in mainly through the north facade and a skylight slot in the middle of the room. On the south side, however, the concrete facade is largely closed. Two sweeping, curved stairs lead up to the first floor so that the entire reading landscape can be traversed in one continuous course without having to turn around. A passerelle cuts through the central, two-story air space and divides it into two parts. » Room of the fairy tale hour « is an elevated, largely closed oval for concentrated reading and telling.