The conception of the signage designed for the Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg (National Library of Luxembourg) is a direct nod to the building’s architecture. A mindfulness of the BnL’s interior spaces and exterior facade is a starting point for the signage, as is paying homage to the public nature and accessibility of the library. In this way, the wayfinding system is meant to accentuate the space and make navigation intuitive, sidestepping any possibility of devaluing a property through the inappropriate application of signage.
Numerical and alphabetical cubes are the foundation of the BnL’s modular signage system. In handling massive volumes of information and growing library collections, it is essential to free the library staff from rigid systems and equip them with the ability to easily make signage changes.
The flexible signage plan, consisting of 25,000 resin cubes, 6000 tableaus and 2,400 numerical shelving characters, enables staff to independently customize information as the library’s collection fluctuates. The resin cubes, constructed from a durable material, also translate the timelessness of the library and its long-standing presence throughout the years and into the future.
The wayfinding system as a whole is customized to complement each area of the BnL. The library’s main directories are formed by large slabs that provide ample space for information display. Open spaces across the multi-level library enable visitors to quickly locate areas from afar with minimal information.
The bespoke typeface Bibliothèque is designed in a series of four weights to meet the various needs of the library. The signage system consists of three character sizes including those set to the size of the cube itself for close to mid-range distances; large characters the size of a few cubes for long distance reading; and a reduced font size for shelving systems. The visual language appears in a minimalist palette of black and white with touches of red to create clear and coherent graphics.
The commission to design the library in the European capital was first won by Bolles+Wilson in an international design competition 16 years ago. While the library was to be situated in the Schuman building on the western end of Avenue John F. Kennedy, the architects were asked to migrate it to the northern part of the boulevard in 2014. The €75 million library now shares the Kirchberg-Plateau in Luxembourg’s urban district with the Mudam art museum by I. M. Pei, the Philharmonie by Christian de Portzamparc, the EU bureaucracy and financial center.
The Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg is one of the foremost libraries in the world dedicated to scientific research, receiving two thirds of its funding from overseas institutions. The BnL collects and catalogs all publications published in Luxembourg and abroad in connection with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
In addition to over 1.8 million print publications, the BnL offers visitors an ever-increasing selection of digital publications, e-journals, e-books and research databases. The BnL is also a cultural meeting point and regularly organizes conferences, exhibitions and events on a number of diverse subjects.