Not every library in the history of architecture offers its users an exciting architectural experience. However, three Danish firms – schmidt hammer lassen architects, ADEPT and AART architects – have designed buildings that have contributed to making libraries stand out.
In the Danish city of Aarhus, schmidt hammer lassen has designed a multipurpose compound called Dokk1, comprising library and citizens’ services. The building has been designed to be part of the conversion of the industrial inner harbour of Aarhus to a city space. As Scandinavia’s largest public library, Dokk1 represents a new generation of modern hybrid libraries, and so has the potential to serve multiple purposes.
The main idea revolves around the concept of a covered urban space. A large polygonal concrete slice hovers above a glazed prism, which rests on a square of ice-flake-shaped stairs fanning out to the edge of the sea. The ice flakes create wide plateaus, which accommodate recreational activities and outdoor events.
With a total floor area of 35,600 square metres, Dokk1 cost approximately €280 million to construct. The top floors contain the media house administration and offices for rent, while the glass building below allows passers-by visual access to the activities in the building. From the inside, users have a 360-degree panoramic view.
The library part of Dokk1 contains numerous sections in staggered levels that include literature and media areas, exhibitions, a children’s theatre, interactive activities, public events, cafés and restaurants, forming a lively path through the building. Below ground, schmidt hammer lassen architects has incorporated a large automatic parking system, while a new light-rail system will have a stop here as well.
“Dokk1 is not just a building. It is a place for the exchange of knowledge and creative opportunities, and a multicultural meeting place that will change people’s perception of the city. Dokk1 underlines this with its architecture, where exceptional visual contact with the city is created – both from the inside and outdoors. This makes the building an icon and landmark for the city and for the knowledge society,” says Kim Holst Jensen, Senior Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects.
Dokk1 welcomed its first guests in June 2015.
The Danish architectural practice ADEPT has designed a new media arena for the Dalarna University Campus in Falun, Sweden. The new library building reinterprets the library in a multifunctional design and has been created as a 3,000-square-metre ‘spiral of knowledge’ that naturally integrates into the surrounding landscape at the campus.
The natural terrain of the landscape is in this way continued as a ramp that spirals up through the central atrium of the library – the heart of the building – where all information search and orientation take place. Boasting its very own spatial character uniting library and multimedia functions, the Dalarna Media Arena creates synergy with the existing university complex.
ADEPT has designed and developed a characteristic double façade with reflecting horizontal lamellae fronting a wood cladding in collaboration with the Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Not being an isolated art piece, the façade, which is made of stainless steel and Siberian larch, offers a detailed and refined look, with an immateriality that mirrors its surroundings and the people in it using broken reflections.
The new library is the main attraction, and new entrance when arriving at the university. To emphasise this, the surrounding spaces have been transformed from a large parking lot to an integrated urban plaza, which handles people flow in a way that optimises the public spaces around the building into defined activity zones and intimate recreational areas.
In Elsinore, Denmark, the Danish architectural company AART architects has reshaped an old shipyard into a modern cultural centre, including concert halls, showrooms, conference facilities, a dockyard museum and a public library, making it an example of adaptive reuse architecture.
Both the present and the past is in evidence at the cultural centre, which is called the Culture Yard. For instance, the original concrete skeleton with armoured steel has been reinforced, but left exposed as a reference to the site’s industrial past. Reuse of the architecture has thus been the main structural idea in the design process. This is a way of ensuring that the keen observer will discover a chapter of history in every corner of the yard.
When viewed from the seafront and the famous Kronborg Castle, where Shakespeare’s Hamlet was set, the multifaceted façade is striking. Seeming fragmented, yet strongly coherent as a structure, the enormous glass-and-steel façade challenges the historic site and stares head-on across the strait that separates Denmark from Sweden.
”The characteristic feature of the Culture Yard is, in fact, the transparent facade that encloses and connects the historic shipyard buildings. With its transparent gesture, the facade creates a distinctive contrast to the solid shipyard buildings. In this way, it gives the Culture Yard an intriguing identity, which is further enhanced by the steel elements of the construction that are used as a reference to the area’s original function as a shipyard,” says Anders Tyrrestrup, Partner at AART architects.
The dazzling and dramatic play of lines in the façade generates a sense of spaciousness, while the façade encloses the yard in a characteristic setting. Appearing as one large mass despite the fact that it is made of hundreds of lines and triangles, the façade generates a sense of place and time. It functions not only as an aesthetic architectural feature, but also as a climate shield, reducing the energy demand for cooling and heating the building.