A skull-like university library in Berlin was opened this week by its architect, Lord Foster. The outer shell takes the form of a dome of alternating glass and metal panels that slots into a courtyard of the 1970s Free University of Berlin.

Foster and Partners conceived the building as a human skull with 6300 m2 of space, 70,000 books and 650 study desks arranged like a brain that floats freely from an outer shell over six floors. The £12m library building forms part of the £50m refurbishment of the university’s philology department. Buro Noack and Kappes Scholtz were the construction managers, with Hohler Hass und Partner as cost consultant and Buro Langkau Arnsberg as structural engineer.