The fire that devastated the Luzern (Lucerne) railway station in 1971 left the city in shock. The destruction of the neoclassical building and its distinctive cupola was so extensive that only part of the front facade could be salvaged. A new station was eventually rebuilt by the Zurich architecture office of Ammann Baumann, among whom was a young employee named Santiago Calatrava.
Part of the new station complex included a new mail distribution centre, also designed by Ammann Baumann and inaugurated in 1985. When the Swiss Post eventually vacated the building in the early 2000s, this central location proved ideal for the then newly formed University of Luzern. The academic institution was then spread among 24 locations in the city, and so were the 300,000 volumes of its library.
The transformation project, led by architects Evelyn Enzmann and Philipp Fischer, gutted the old post office to its core structure and organized the 800 rooms of the new learning complex around several light wells. The library stretches over the entire second floor, connecting the different functional areas, with its reading spaces looking out to interior atria such as this one.
The exterior of the building is clad in a hull of recycled glass and aluminum panels resembling folded paper, a metaphor for the learning and research activities of the university, as well as the building’s past as a sorting facility for letters and parcels.
This post is part of a series on adaptive reuse in libraries. See the list of such projects I am maintaining or view other posts in this series.
- Enzmann Fischer: Universität und PHZ, Luzern, 1.Preis, 2006 – 2011
- Gabler, Christiane (2012). Vertriebszentrum wird Hochschule. Bauwelt 33.2012, pp. 14-23.
- Rota, Aldo (2012). Neue Saiten aufziehen: Vorgeschichte zum Bauprojekt Universität Luzern. Espazium/TEC21, 35.
- Farrèr, Ramun (2017). Uni- /PH-Gebäude in Architekturbibliothek: Schweizer Architektur 1920 – heute
- Enzmann, Evelyne und Fischer, Philipp (2011): Vom funktionalen Bauwerk zum UNI/PHZ-Gebäude. unilu AKTUELL Spezial: Das neue UNI/PHZ-Gebäude, 3/4 September 2011, pp. 12-13.
- Archello: University of Lucerne’s Main Building
- Neuer Bahnhof Luzern (1991) | SBB Schweiz | SRF Archiv
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!