Where the Law is Clear
Access to both old and new buildings is via a staircase and an elevator in the new atrium. Public seminar rooms, lockers, and coatrooms are in the basement, with the library functions on the upper floors. Bridges and stairs crisscross the 16-foot- (5-meter-) wide, 82-foot- (25-meter-) high atrium, while a turquoise sheet of water at ground level provides a sparkle and contributes to the indoor thermal performance.
Polished aluminum lamellas mounted under the atrium's glass roof reflect daylight down to ground level and into spaces near the north wall that would otherwise see little direct sunlight.
Typical floors house information and research resources in galleries that open onto the atrium. Daylit reading spaces line the west, north, and east walls. Book stacks are concentrated in the interior and toward the south wall, which is also a firewall.
The Central Library of Law is heated and cooled with natural ventilation through flaps in the building's east and west facades, and further powered by convection currents in the atrium. The atrium also functions as a thermal buffer space and retards heat loss in the winter. Massive concrete floor slabs provide thermal storage, collecting heat and giving it off again later on.
During the winter, carbon dioxide sensors monitor air quality and, when necessary, open the window flaps in the atrium roof. The resulting convection pulls fresh air through control flaps in the south wall. The entire south wall serves as a solar collector that warms this fresh air.
The control flaps at each story are connected to a heater which, if needed, further warms the incoming outside air to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Centigrade). All the occupied spaces also have windows that can be opened manually by occupants.
During the summer, the library is cross ventilated through window flaps in the east and west walls. Air movement through the occupied spaces is further powered by convection currents in the atrium.
When the building heats up during summer days, it is vented at night with fresh outside air through the automatically opening window flaps in the east and west walls and aeration flaps in the atrium roof. The massive concrete ceilings are cooled down, helping to prevent the structure from overheating over the following several days.
This combination of natural ventilation and passive night cooling is very efficient. Besides saving operating and maintenance costs, this system meant that the overall construction volume could be minimized because horizontal and vertical ventilation ducts were made unnecessary. This project demonstrates that design for daylight and natural ventilation is feasible even with a relatively deep floor plan.
System efficiency extends beyond thermal controls in the Central Law Library. Through a specially designed desk, every workplace is furnished with Internet access, electrical power, and a lamp. The desk consists of a bridge-shaped steel frame with a multiplex table-top fixed to its underside. The desk legs serve as both structural support and conduit for cabling.
The crane-like desk lamps were designed to break up the strict geometry of the rows of desks. The lamps hover over the tables like the feelers of insects, giving the workstations a playful appearance. The lamps consist of a flexible chrome-plated tube and a black, diagonally-cut shade.
In this glass bookcase, furnishings and air movement control systems allow inhabitants to enjoy the laws of thermodynamics while they study the laws of the land.
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