Open-air Library by KARO


German designers KARO have designed an outdoor library in Magdeburg, Germany. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Developed from an installation in 2005 made of beer crates, the new building comprises sheltered seating areas and niches to store books.

The new building is clad in wood and materials from a former warehouse.

Photographs are by Anja Schlamann.

Here's some text from KARO:


We established in 2005 in an abandoned district center in East Germany. We started with a public intervention, using beercrates as building material.

It took some some years to organise the money to build this so called "bookmark" for real. It opened in June this year.

Beside the social aspects, the architectural kick is, that we re-used the facade of an old warehouse.

Last year, in its project-phase, it has been shown at the Venice Biennale in the German pavillon (updating Germany). An installation of it has also been shown in 2006 in the exhibition "Talking Cities" curated by Francesca Fergueson.

KARO is a platform for communication, architecture and space organisation, the members work as architects, artists, critics and jounalists, as well as teachers.

Posted on Wednesday October 28th 2009 at 12:12 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • subvertlab

    stunning reconvertion project: the DDR pattern and graffitied pedestal never stopped to be modern… could you make something for the people with the Palace der Republik in Berlin, bitte!?

  • luxor

    sooo cool

    i gasped!

  • very cool … a place to meet – love it

  • Adf

    Very well…

  • bebo

    this is realy great, it can perform as a park, a perfect play ground for adults(reading play ground), and it is original with the use of old facade..just love it

  • ste

    great work! amazing details and feels really worth using it… some nice spaces and gadget in there… i’m not sure if the pattern isnt a bit overused or too much with the entrance (the part where only one row exists) nontheless i really like this building!

  • pero

    if it’s a library- i feel strange about it. what’s hapenin’ if it rains? it’s closed?

  • cool way to create an ‘inside’ without actually being inside and this giving the outside a bit of an ‘inside’ feeling. great!

  • alex.age5

    execly, what happens if it rains for a month? just asking, no ofence. like the detail, looks great

  • Richie

    Intriguing.. it’d be great to see some plans and other drawings.

  • aeolus

    Very nice! Some gaiety among what looks to be dreary surroundings.

  • I like the aesthetic but I’m not sure the project has relevance… How does this work as a library? Does some one carry the books in every night? How do you keep them books from walking away?
    (Is this a place to take your old books and abandon/donate them?)

    I’d like to see before and after photos of the warehouse that was integrated as well as plans and sections….

  • t i m_

    dear alex and pero and eric

    i think this library has interior space for readers as it is visible in the last picture. in the same time you have the chance reading in the “garden” where there are two possibilities, two different space to stay: a covered opened with a roof, and a totally free opened one. aniway it is true: a massiv storm reduces the room.
    to come before the book steeling is also soluble with a simple registration…

  • Very confident library. It would be great to see plans and interiors.

  • Cool,but how do they manage when it´s cold and rainy,like it´s not south Italy,isn´t it?

  • dina

    didn’t get exactly how it works but looks interesting! there should be some plans or sections!:)

  • ss_sk

    Germany is a Northern country therefore the weather is usually cold – outdoor spaces are to be used for a rather limited period of time. Especially for activities like reading that lack of motion and make a person feel cold faster (even when temperature isn’t too low).

    So I think the title is quite misleading – it must be a typical library with an open-air space for reading. If so, it’s an excellent idea and a quite interesting project. if not, it’s a waste of money…down goes the social intervention.

    Either way the open-air reading place could use a bit more privacy (and isolation…it depends on the traffic) and the re-use of the old facade should be more limited and playful.

  • kristopher adams

    This is a very exciting project and I can see how places like this can engage young people or even older people with literature again.


  • Tanja

    Bizarre and totally great!

  • Richie