Bibliothèque Hôtel Dieu – Clermont Ferrand
Revitalizing a 18th century hospital


Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture


In 2019, Snøhetta submitted its design proposal for the new Metropolitan Library in Clermont Ferrand, France. Set in the historical center of this ancient city, the library will inhabit an old listed 18th century hospital that will be revitalized into a publicly accessible cultural hub for citizens of all ages to enjoy.

Snøhetta’s design proposal features a bold two-volume new-build extension set in the building’s historic courtyard.

Technical details

Design Proposal
Clermont Ferrand, France

GFTK (heritage architecture), EGIS (consultants), Elioth (sustainabilty engineers), SDAP (acoustics)

Carefully considering historic features

Overlooking the iconic mountain of Puy-de-Dôme and framed by a lush green garden which ties the building closer together with its urban context, the extension adds a refreshing touch of novelty while also carefully considering the historic features and qualities of the site. Among other, the shape of the courtyard will be preserved, and an existing grand exterior staircase will be brought back to its former glory and incorporated into the library. Both the extension itself and the landscaping are highly inspired by the movement of tectonic plates, referencing the uniqueness of this volcanic region in Central France.

Set at the very core of this historic city and region, the Library will become a knowledge hub and a place for human interaction that naturally follows the citizens of Clemont Ferrand though their lives – from childhood to old age.

Photo: Plomp

An activated public realm

Consisting mainly of a space dubbed “the Forum”, the extension will become an activated public realm which leads visitors to the library collections, as well as the Amphitheatre, study rooms, administration and so on.

The adjacent garden will become an integral part of the library, offering visitors a respite in the city and a quiet secluded space to enjoy books on a sunny day.

Photo: Plomp

As a journey

A new public path leads visitors from the garden area, via the exterior stairs and all the way into a new inner patio and an upper-level plaza featuring a café and an adjacent gallery. This new path ties the different elements of the project closer together, creating a natural and seamless transition between inside and outside spaces and the surrounding city. All new amenities can be accessed without passing through the library itself, making them attractive leisure and cultural venues in their own right.

Rather than imagining the new Metropolitan Library simply as yet another cultural destination in the city, Snøhetta's design proposal is built around the idea of creating a journey – a journey that commences at the city level and the garden, leading all the way to the bookshelves, and then back again.

Photo: Plomp

Photo: Plomp