Gaudi´s Heritage

Library, UK

Deutsche Werkstätten services:
Interior design, planning, interior furnishing

Completion 2011


Deutsche Werkstätten are highly experienced in fulfilling particularly unusual and unique client wishes. However in June 2009 we received an enquiry through our UK representative Gus Grimaldi that took us all by surprise: A library, made in solid wood and designed according to Antoni Gaudi’s exquisite architectural form.

The reference to the ingenious Catalan architect Gaudi was uncanny, as just 18 months earlier the Deutsche Werkstätten had presented an in-house exhibition on Gaudi’s Barcelona projects. Everyday all of our 190 members of staff at Dresden-Hellerau were confronted with Gaudi’s organic shapes, whether they wanted to or not. This is what one might call being well prepared.

Antoni Gaudi was a genius and more of an artist than an architect, a kind of visionary designer. Unlike anybody else he shaped his native town of Barcelona. Such genius cannot be replicated. One might only approach his work carefully and attempt to materialize one’s own thoughts and emotions. Thus we created our own design that was coherent and strong: We combined a three dimensional wooden front made of oiled oak in Gaudi’s characteristic cambered manner with elements in steel and glass. The shelves were executed in the tropical wood wenge as well as in steel and were connected by impressive arches and doors that were also made in solid oak.

Shape finding and milling
With the help of special 3D model making software from the automotive industry we created a virtual image of the library on the computer. From the model we were able to work out how we had to deal with the unmachined wood: 19 mm thick solid wooden pieces were glued together in a criss-cross pattern and fixed on top of each. The next challenge was how the unmachined wood of such vast dimensions (its highest point in the library is 3.60 m high) could be routed by 5-axis CNC milling. We had to deal with complex dimensions that did not comply with any standard.

Our carpenters cut seams for electrical wires and hinges into the back of the unmachined wood. Then we erected the library in our 7.500 m² production hall in Dresden-Hellerau: The front, the doors, the passageway with its three-dimensional surfaces, the organic shapes. Just the fixing and fitting of the passageway was complex due to the weight of the element. After two weeks both library wings faced each other in all their beauty – a perfect library, though in the wrong place.

Transport and fitting
All the carefully packaged parts reached their final destination after a long journey by truck. Within a fortnight a bare room was turned into a shrine, admired by everybody who entered it. The impressive wooden pieces, the grotto-like passageway to a room behind the library, the indirect lighting, the suspended ceilings with the two domes, the parquet flooring, all of which creates a special atmosphere that is somewhere between Joanne K. Rowling’s Hogwarts and the cemetery of the forgotten books from Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s renowned novel “The Shadow of the Wind” set in Barcelona.

Text: Deutsche Werkstätten
Photo: Sven Döring