The location of the public library of Kressbronn am Bodensee, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, was used as place of welcome since the 18th century. The first written mention of a certain Gottfried Jakob, innkeeper at the Lamm (Lamb) where the library now stands, dates from 1784, but it is believed that the inn was built closer to the beginning of the century. After Jakob’s death, his widow Maria Anna (née Brielmaier) oversaw the inn’s expansion and several additional buildings were added around 1800: a wine cellar, a warehouse and taking advantage of a river running nearby, a wash house and bakery (“Ovenkuchel”).
The Jakobs’ successors were evidently less savvy businesspeople, as the beginning of the 19th century saw the inn go bankrupt and change hands several times, until landing in the hands of Friedrich Maier, who turned the business around. In 1899, his heir Adelbert Maier moved the inn closer to the recently opened train station, while continuing to operate the original compound for brewing, baking and storage. In 1922, a fire consumed the 1800 warehouse, which was then used as stables. A year later, the compound was reorganized and the barn that almost a century later would become the town library was erected. The two-storey structure had stables and a carriage house on the ground floor with hay and feed storage underneath the tiled roof. In 1947, another fire partly damaged the stables, but the stone walls remained intact and the barn was rebuilt. Shortly thereafter, the inn closed for good and the compound was then used for farming until the 1980s.
In 2009, the area was purchased by the town of Kressbronn, which cleaned up the banks of the river and opened an architecture competition to convert the barn, which was then the only element remaining from the former Lamm compound, into a library. Even though it had originally landed in 3rd place, it was the project submitted by Thomas Steimle and his practice that eventually got selected by the town council.
The architects’ intervention was inspired by the history and the origins of the original structure, a stone base covered by an open timber lattice suited to drying and storing hay. The initial plan to preserve the original stonework however proved impossible due to its fragility. The barn’s timber frame was therefore removed, restored, and rebuilt on top of a new concrete base. The vertical timber slats that form the upper facade are a reference to the original barn covering, disjointed planks that let the sun shine through. This inspired the architects to replicate the effect by cleverly rotating slats to let sun in while hiding the library’s windows and acting as pare-soleil. The result is an elegant and discreet building that fits perfectly with its surroundings and is well loved by the community.
The images shown here date from my visit in September 2022.
- Darstein-Ebner, I. (2019). Der Ort bestimmt – Bibliothek im Heustadel. Bauwelt, 11.2019, 60–64.
- Bibliothek Kressbronn. Steimle Architekten
- Pintos, P. (2021). Library Kressbronn a. B. / Steimle Architekten. ArchDaily, April 23, 2021
- Scheunenumbau: Bibliothek in Kressbronn am Bodensee. Baunetz Wissen
- Geuder, T. (2019). Transformierter Zeitzeuge: Bücherei, Kressbronn. DBZ Deutsche BauZeitschrift, 7/8/2019.
- Posters on the building’s history inside the library
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!