Rising like an extraterrestrial sphere from the usual gridline construction of a university campus, the Philological Library of the Free University of Berlin is an entity of welcomed visual deviance. Completed in 2005 by Foster + Partners (an architecture firm founded by Lord Norman Foster) the library is another addition to a portfolio known for its proclivity for the high tech (they are also the firm behind the otherworldly Reichstag dome). Open to the public, the only thing mandatory is the placement of all possessions in one of the lockers locked, befittingly, electronically. From the top floor of the core structure, the bright yellow entrance and the undulating curve of each floor below is an astounding sight for a building that houses books about the, mesmerizing in its own right, history of language. Said to be one of the firm’s most ecologically advanced projects, decades of research and experimentation were conducted to maximize energy efficiency while equally minimizing the environmental impact. Endearingly referred to as the “Berlin Brain” due to its form being reminiscent of a cranium, the library is awash in natural light and the unmistakable silence of students in a daze of academic concentration. (Text: Feride Yalav-Heckeroth / Photos: Bernd Wannenmacher, David Ausserhofer, Reinhard Gorner)
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Feride Yalav-Heckeroth is a freelance writer who has written for Brownbook, The Carton, and The Guide Istanbul. She’s been living in Kreuzberg for six months and is working as a freelance writer for Gestalten.