Roofscape of Viroqua Library concept bent into folds in reflection of nearby mountains
The city of Viroqua seeks to expand its existing public library services while extending its access to additional programs and services. As a result, and in light of generous community funding, a new and significantly larger public library is envisioned to be erected at a new location, which will now physically connect the Library to the Western Technical College. The intent is for this new Library to focus on bridging public access to additional social amenities and educational venues flexible enough to accommodate the town’s long-term needs.
The richness of the region, along with the various programmatic needs for the facility has influenced (r)evolution architecture's solution. This region is known as the Driftless or lack of glacial drift area. It’s a region characterised by an eroded plateau with bedrock overlain by varying thicknesses of loess. This region has elevations ranging from 603ft to 1,719ft with diagonal and deeply dissected river valleys. As it relates to the programmatic needs, the building needed to include all public library program elements, as well as a senior/community centre, a public information centre and a public commons lounge. (r)evolution architecture's conceptual position is an exercise in the expansion of a library’s meaning and an exploration of the reinterpretation and enhanced ideology of what defines a public library, as well as its image within the civic realm of Viroqua.
The investigation for this solution is centred on three concepts: the integration of formal programmatic relations within the library proper; the interaction and interrelation of varying programmatic needs; and its materiality and massing as used to define the building’s reference to the surrounding context in and around Viroqua, as well as the Driftless region. It is through the initial investigation that (r)evolution architecture began to formulate the defining principals.
The plan is simultaneously being conceived as the massing. Initially, the plan organised the Library as a larger volume, mimicking the Western Technical College massing with cuts along its edge to allow courtyards and natural light to enter the spaces along its western edge. Between Western Technical College and the library a connecting link is formed by one of the voids, giving the Library and the College a common social space to enter through from Rock Street and Main Street. As the planning diagram developed further the broader strategy of the massing began to take shape. The team fused a continuous bent roof plane; giving direct reference to the hills and valleys of the surrounding topography was laid over the massing bending and folding in height to relate to the interior program needs.
As the plane extends to the south, further engagement of the Western Technical College building was developed to give the overall assembly of buildings more continuity and presence for Viroqua. It is intended to further exploit the overlapping of forms and functions, creating new opportunities programmatically, as well as visually.
The buildings’ massing, generated from the existing edges of the surrounding structures, occupies the northwest corner of the block. (r)evolution architecture then pushed areas of mass in to the east, creating a rhythm of courtyards along the western edge, breaking the scale to more in line with the Main Street streetscape, but also to allow for exterior social spaces and green areas in and around the library and Western Technical College. Along the eastern face of the building, a simplified read was necessary to be in harmony with the long façade of Western Technical College as well and the Dahl building directly in front of the Library. A rust-colored material is being considered for the Library to be contextual with the older brick buildings of Main Street. Large expanses of glass will be used throughout the facility to give the library maximum transparency into and out of the various reading areas and exterior courtyards.