Gabriel García Márquez Library

SUMA Arquitectura‘s Gabriel García Márquez Library in Barcelona has an innovative design as a “cathedral of books,” featuring a sculptural exterior and holistic interior approach.

  • area / size 44,886 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • Location Barcelona, Spain,
  • The Gabriel García Márquez Library, a work of Madrid-based firm SUMA Arquitectura, founded and directed by Elena Orte and Guillermo Sevillano, wins the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Awards (EUmies Awards) 2024 in the Emerging Architecture category.

    The building is located in Sant Martí, a working-class and vindictive Barcelona district that lacked this type of facility, and was promoted by BIMSA-Barcelona City Council as part of a three-decade plan to build such facilities in the city. SUMA won the architecture competition held in 2015 and the inauguration took place in May 2022, providing the neighborhood with a crucial addition. The architects turned what was to be simply the fortieth library within the Barcelona City Library Network Plan into an innovative space for culture and knowledge and a new icon and emblem for the neighborhood and city of Barcelona. A “cathedral of books” that won in 2023 the title of “best new library in the world” according to the World Library Congress held in Rotterdam, and has recently received the FAD Award, the Ciutat de Barcelona Award, the COAM First Award and the NAN Award, as well as other honorable mentions.

    Now the library has received the most important European prize, the EUMies Award 2024 (Emerging Architecture category) which was announced on April 25 at the CIVA, Information, Documentation and Exhibition Center on city, architecture, landscape and urbanism of the Brussels-Capital Region, in the framework of the European Conference on Architectural Policies (ECAP) under the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union.

    The building stands out at first sight for its sculptural quality with its large sculpted volume that evokes a block of stacked books with folded pages. Once inside, with more than 4,000 square meters distributed over 5 floors, the library surprises with its great constructive complexity and variety of internal spaces, with different functions, masterfully harmonized thanks to a holistic design approach. Visually, the interior space is perceived as majestic and luminous thanks to the articulation around a spectacular central triangular atrium with zenithal lighting. At the same time, it is warm and welcoming, thanks to the extensive and visible presence of wood, materials and furnishings specifically designed to enhance user comfort.

    The value of the facility is expressed not only in the new built volume but also in the urban planning approach around it, since the intervention has managed to generate a raised square at the intersection of the two secondary streets that flank the building, a new chamfer adapted to the needs of the project, allowing a fluid pedestrian circulation around it, creating an urban hall enclosed by the existing large trees and partially covered by the cantilever of the facade. The new space has been baptized by the City Council with the qualification and name of square, which has been dedicated to Carmen Balcells Segalá, the editor of Gabriel García Marquez and other Latin-American authors.

    Research, programmatic innovation and ecosystemic design in a 21st century library are the characteristics that have earned SUMA Arquitectura’s Gabriel García Márquez Library the EUmies Awards 2024 in the Emerging Architecture category.

    Design: SUMA Arquitectura
    Photography: Jesús Granada