Biblioteca Central de la UNED, Madrid, Spain

Photo: Rebeca Rodríguez
Photo: Rebeca Rodríguez

Name of the Library: Biblioteca Central de la UNED
Parent Organisation: Universidad Nacional de Educacion Distancia (UNED)

Street Address: Paseo Senda del Rey, 5
Postal Address: 28040 MADRID
Telephone : +34 91 3986630
Web Address:

Type of Library: Central Library
Population served: university students, professors, managers and administrators
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres): 8.000
Date of Completion 1994
Architect Jose Ignacio Linazasoro

Photo: Rebeca Rodríguez
Photo: Rebeca Rodríguez

In December 1994, the UNED inaugurated a new building designed to be its Central Library in Madrid. The project was commissioned to José Ignacio Linazasoro (San Sebastián 1947), Professor of Architecture Projects of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM).

The architect wanted to isolate the place from the outer noise and let, at the same time, the surrounding nature penetrate the building. He conceived a cubic block in which he combined, on one hand, a study area with very narrow horizontal openings that simulate slots from a distance while, on the other, he opened up to landscape the offices and common areas with large windows looking at the Casa de Campo and Sierra de Guadarrama.

The external appearance of the building hides the complex distribution of internal space, producing a surprise effect when one enters to the first floor and contemplates the reading area distributed over six floors, creating a singular space linked through inner stairs located obliquely.


This whole, plus the top floor with the cafeteria and administration area and the bottom access hall, constitute the three independent different spaces, overlapped in height and “hermetic among them”, according to the architect, that form the area of use of the Library. A lower ground floor completes the total of nine floors of the building, and also a terrace that crowns it.

The access floor welcomes visitors thanks to the visual continuity that is established between the exterior and the interior, achieved through the use of the same material, travertine, for the inside floor and for the section in front of the entrance outside, and with panels and glass doors that allow natural light in, as well as the gaze of those who get close to the Library to reach all the space, where thick cylindrical concrete columns constitute this “hypostyle room” that others have also called “a forest of columns”.

It is here where we can admire a work from the renowned sculptor Cristina Iglesias (San Sebastián, 1956), showed at Venezia´s Biennale in 1993, consisting of two equal parts of cement with one side covered with molten aluminium panels with floral motifs. Tangentially arranged to two columns, they draw two diagonals in space.

Each of the following six plants has a similar distribution. They constitute, as mentioned above, a unitary space organized around an empty central space, square on the sixth floor and circular on the others, whose diameter decreases unnoticeably as you descend. Around this vacuum are the reading posts over which gravitate the sixteen wooden skylights in the form of a truncated pyramid, covered by translucent glass that screen the daylight reaching these posts. Alongside the six floors are located the shelves with the books, because the library is open access, occupying space and establishing a dialogue with the central vacuum.

The narrow and high horizontal windows scatter the light over the shelves and also contribute to the lighting of the rooms, preventing the reader from being distracted. The coating of wood absorbs the noise.

In the top floor the space is reversed: the interior is occupied by the coffered ceiling that form the wooden skylights and around it are the offices located in the east and north façades, with large windows for natural light to enter the work areas, and the cafeteria and the meeting room -in the south and west walls, respectively- where the “wall of glass” allows you to enjoy nature with spectacular views of the Parque del Oeste, the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the Casa de Campo.

This unique building received a “new plant buildings” mention in the VIII Premios de Urbanismo, Arquitectura y Obra Pública in 1993, awarded by the Madrid City Council, and also received an honourable mention for the Architecture Awards in 1993, awarded by the COAM Association Architects of Madrid, and became, from the time of its inauguration, the public image of
IFLA Public Libraries Section 1001 Libraries to see before you die 3
the UNED in its presentation card. The library was also selected for the exhibition at the City Museum in October 1999 entitled “Madrid, Twentieth Century Architecture.

As a library for the distance learning university, the online services are essential and highly demanded: we are committed with the open access publication in the institutional repository e-SpacioUNED, the dissemination of instant information via social networks, support services for faculty research and informational skills for students, with social responsibility and environmental sustainability and accessibility services.

Awards, case studies, further information
UNED Innovation Awards to recognize and acknowledge these employees, their innovative programs and projects: 2007, 2010, 2013
Valencia Documentation Awards 2013
Further information:
Institutional repository:
Research portal:
Social media:


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