Bibliothèque de la Cité, Genève

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Bibliothèque de la Cité, Genève


Assisting a library within the framework of a digital breakthrough facelift, and rethinking everything with the players as to its purpose, its usages and its spaces in view of a renovation ... this is the exciting project for which matali crasset was invited to the Cité Library in Geneva.

 The renovation highlights themes which she treasures and with which she has worked on for many years: the relaying, dissemination and the availability of culture for everyone, with digital technology being an opportunity to reaffirm our values, participatory methodologies...

matali crasset was then invited in the autumn of 2015 to participate in brain-storming workshops with all the personnel members focusing on the key themes and it was during these debates that the new project came into existence.

The Cité Library decided to use this renovation as an opportunity to change its entire layout.

A new layout

Our starting point is people, their interests and their commitment in the world.


This access to the world is made easier by a division by each floor which goes further than the usual classifications, allowing for cross-disciplinary systems, a blend of mediums (books, DVDs…) ... an intergenerational whole.

A NEW ORGANISATION of the area which is laid out:

VERTICALLY for one part                           

- on the ground floor: the world and me, my city…

- on the 1st floor: the imaginary world…

- on the 2nd floor: the world in the making…

- on the 3rd floor: the world in music…

- on the 4th floor: the world being built

- by a specific spatial awareness allowing to create “backgrounds, cosy and private areas” to give some originality to the research and to focus more on the themes which are especially relevant when related to our ever-evolving world.

HORIZONTALLY for the other part.

In the right part of the building, a personal development area to be:

- Curious (about my neighbourhood, about my city and embrace the world’s growing complexity to slowly reinforce one’s own general culture)

- Open-minded (to other cultures, to other ways of doing things to be able to then change our own ‘layout’ and way of thinking ...)

- Autonomous in regards to information

- Aware (acquire a personal judgement, be a citizen)

- Able to learn more about certain domains

(and drop any superficial knowledge …)

- Guided, to move from an amateur experience to a more professional approach.

In the left part of the building, a group development area to:

- Exchange, compare ideas allowing to enlarge our points of view…

- Build projects together…

With workshops in direct contact with specific documentary content chosen for its potential to promote CO-creation (1st), CO-working (2nd), and CO-training (2nd).


A library is not a watchman of our culture, it goes towards people and is proactive. It makes us think about our society and all the changes during our time.

On the ground-floor there is a platform for reflection and exhibition which is in direct contact with the city, questioning the various challenges of our epoch. These reflections allow to integrate books and documentaries … in direct contact with our concerns and focusing on more specific themes which then invigorate the library within each floor-specific designed exhibition area.  

It guides us in our search for knowledge with the possibility of various levels to being involved: an area to sit down and discuss (with a coffee), know what’s happening in the world (the news), become aware (a wall of DVDs), learn more, become a player (in the workshops), and “create” (experimental areas).


The world and me gives this notion of opening-up to the outside, but it’s not just the idea of summoning the world, as the library also becomes a player on the outside.

For this, it has devices and mobile tools at its disposition allowing for different levels of participation.


This vertical dissemination of knowledge is replaced by a horizontal dissemination where everyone becomes responsible and a player in their own development.

The library is not just a place for research and book-loaning but a living area to acquire autonomy in regards to information:

- Know where to find it,

- Know how to become familiar with it,

- Know how to use it for one’s own project development...

This pattern-change develops thanks to a change in our state-of-mind. 

Each floor has its own personal layout logic

- THERE ARE SOME DETOURS: we take a basket and go to another floor to pick up some DVDs...

- THERE ARE THOSE LEARNING IN AN ALTERNATIVE MANNER, other ways of acquiring “culture”, with young children sitting around specifically-designed areas,

- FUN WAYS OF LEARNING, SITTING INFORMALLY, on beanbag chairs, up-high on raised areas…around an inviting table...

Digital technology becomes alive when it’s used and experimented with. The library integrates more than just a tool, it slowly allows for a little autonomy to become aware, to learn and to create...