The Library

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A cultural

Year: First prize in competition 2009, completion 2011

Client: City of Copenhagen

Program: Extension of existing culture house including new library and concert hall

Size: Existing 1,150 m², new build 2,000 m²

In Copenhagen’s multicultural Northwest district, the social hub is a library designed as a diverse and unifying space – a place where visitors can read, play with their children, meet new friends or simply relax. The building is an extension of an existing cultural center, with a library and concert hall that together form a community center. The design is inspired by a stack of books. Each “book” contains a different aspect of the building, a structure that is meant to appeal to a diversity of people. In the void between the “books” and the old cultural center, this space transforms the library corridors into a welcoming informal meeting place inside the building. It functions as a social hang-out for visitors and residents in the Northwest district.

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Concept sketch: A stack of books.

How do you design a contemporary library in a run-down neighborhood with a very diverse group of residents?

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What should a modern
library offer?
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The Northwest area in Copenhagen is located in between the lively and diverse urban neighborhood of Nørrebro and the suburban neighborhoods at the edge of the city. The Library bridges the two and creates a meeting place.

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The Library aims to heighten the identity of the area. It is designed as a landmark and as a meeting place for the local community.

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The extension to the existing building is divided into smaller volumes and arranged like a stack of books, which creates an extra space between the old and new buildings.

Libraries have changed from simply being places where you borrow books to places where students do a whole day’s work, families spend a Sunday morning and homeless people can read the daily papers. The Library in Nordvest has become a new social anchor point for everyone.

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In an area dominated by very small apartments, The Library becomes an extension of people’s homes, where residents line up for the 10 o’clock opening.

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Socioeconomic challenges.
Northwest district, 100% = the average in Copenhagen.
Source: Statistics Denmark.

During the day, the building stands out as a defined golden object composed of stacked volumes. A visible cultural engine has landed in northwest Copenhagen.

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At night, the void between the new and the old library completely transforms the building from a heavy volume to a light and welcoming public space.

One building,
many different
living rooms

Designed as a pixelated bookshelf, the childen’s library is a three-dimensional playground of books and activities.

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The youth library is an active space for workshops and study groups. This is where youngsters catch up after school. The adult library is home to the largest collection of books. This space has a quieter and more intimate atmosphere.

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The top of the building features a multifunctional concert hall and event space with an amazing view of the city.

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The space between the new and old buildings in The Library is an informal space designed as a continuation of the public street.

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This indoor public street is a vibrant and informal space, an urban living room that the local community has clearly embraced and appreciates.

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Client: City of Copenhagen

Program: Extension of existing culture house including new library and concert hall

Size: Existing 1,150 m², new build 2,000 m²

Year: First prize in competition 2009, completion 2011

Collaborators: TRANSFORM, Wessberg, Schønherr, Bdr. A&B Andersen

Awards: Foreningen Hovedstadens Forskønnelse 2011, Copenhagen Award 2011 – Best Public Building, MIPIM Award 2012 – Best Refurbished Building, Politiken iBYEN Award 2013, Architizer A+ Awards 2015 Finalist, Danish Landscape Award 2017

Team: Caroline Nagel, Christian Sander, Dan Stubbergaard, Morten Emil Engel, Rasmus Bernhard Nielsen, Rune Boserup, Tabea Treier, Thomas Krarup.

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST, Jens Markus Lindhe, Adam Mørk