Bruno Gaudin Architectes finally completed work on the National Library of France (BnF) after working on the transformation for 15 years. The major event meant that every part of this national archive, scattered over two sites: Richelieu and François-Mitterrand, suffered severe damage. The implementation of the project, which consisted of two phases, the first of which was completed in 2016, revolutionised the library both for its staff and for the public.
“After 15 years of work, we have returned a building that has been profoundly transformed to meet the contemporary challenges of welcoming the public, opening it up to the city, and sharing and exchanging with the younger generations,” shares Bruno Gaudin. “Yesterday, closed in on itself, the large, magnificent, worn, fragmented, dark, and dilapidated treasure chest has now been given a new identity, full of light.”
Perhaps the most dramatic societal transformation took place in the first phase, when the Oval Hall was completely restored and renovated. This iconic reading room in the Richelieu grounds was originally designed in the late 19th century. To anchor the space to its historical pathways, the company has updated outdated lighting and installed multimedia seating so visitors can enjoy every aspect of the collection.
But while some spaces, like the bookcases and staff quarters, have been completely refurbished, other areas have been created. These include the Vivienne Garden, a new outdoor space located on what used to be the rear of three neighbouring buildings. Now the entrance to the library has been carved out, which makes it possible to add a modern touch to the historical space.