Halmstad Library, Sweden

Halmstead 2
Photographer: Adam Mørk

Name of the Library: Halmstad Library
Parent Organisation: Halmstad Municipality
Street Address: Axel Olsons gata 1
Postal Address:300 04 Halmstad, Sweden
Telephone :+46 035-13 71 81
Web Address:bibliotek.halmstad.se
Library Email:stadsbiblioteket@halmstad.se

Type of Library :Medium size town library
Population served:95,000 (625,500 visitors per year)
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres):8,000 sqm
Date of Completion:2006
Architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects

Photographer: Adam Mørk
Photographer: Adam Mørk


Halmstad Library is set within a park next to the Nissan River, overlooking the historic centre of Halmstad. With its atrium encircling a large existing chestnut tree becoming its fulcrum and the long concave facade with double-height glazing distended between the seemingly floating floor-plates, nature, the seasons and the city all become part of the library.

Inside, the library is essentially a single open space, flexible and highly legible: an open structure which allows an active interplay between the columns and the trees outside. The double-height glazing of the concave façade creates a welcoming, transparent ambience. The atrium is the focal point that creates an instant overview and connects the library’s three floors vertically.

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk

Surrounding the atrium is the information plaza: a dynamic zone containing the reception area, computer terminals, exhibitions, a café, and stairs to the balcony and the stacks in the basement. Around this zone looking out in the direction of the façade and the views, the various sections unfurl, breathing their own tranquil atmosphere, affording users space to ponder or be drawn in.

The library is extended across the wide expanse of the Nissan River like a bridge linking the historic part of town and the new urban development area, formerly divided by the river for hundreds of years. A square in front of the library creates a new urban space which can host a range of civic activities.

The library is constructed of few and simple materials: concrete, glass and Nordic larch flooring that interact effectually with the exterior surroundings. The Library is raised above street level on a forest of columns echoing the trees surrounding the building. The grass roof of the building is a sustainable solution, reducing UV penetration and the need for drainage, as well as providing additional insulation

2006, Nominated for the Kasper Salin Award
2006, The Architecture Prize of the Municipality of Halmstad 2007, Awarded the Helgjutet-prize from Swedish Concrete Industry


Växjö City Library, Sweden

Vaxjo City
Photographer: Adam Mørk

Name of the Library: Växjö City Library
Parent Organisation: Växjö Municipality
Street Address: Västra Esplanaden 7
Postal Address:  351 12 Växjö, Sweden
Telephone :  +46 0470-414 44
Web Address: http://bibliotek.vaxjo.se
Library Email:  stadsbiblioteket@vaxjo.se

Type of Library : Medium size town library
Population served:85,000
Project Type:  Conversion, New Building
Size (square metres):3,850 m2 new build. 3,100 m2 conversion
Date of Completion:2003
Architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects

Vaxjo City 2
Photographer: Adam Mørk


Växjö City Library sits in the cultural centre of the city and comprises a new build extension and a sensitive refurbishment of architect Erik Uluot’s building from 1965. The extension is an independent circular volume that matches up with the existing square library.

With a base of light-toned natural stone terminated at the top by an unbroken band of glass, the new building appears as a simple, balanced juxtaposition of stone and glass. Visual weight below and an apparent lightness above – exactly like its sister building but with the order reversed. The interconnecting building sensitively mediates contact between the circular building and its quadratic counterpart.

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk

The circular atrium is the new building’s unifying element. Extending up through the library’s three storeys, long flights of straight-run stairs present a linear contrast to the geometry of the circle. Between the atrium and the building’s façade are the library’s
many functions located, positioned as freestanding furniture pieces on the light-toned wooden floors at each level. 

2004, Växjö Municipality Architectural Prize
2004, Nominated for the Kaspar Salin Prize
2005, Kronoberg Län’s Architectural Prize





Halifax Central Library, Canada

Photographer: Adam Mørk
Photographer: Adam Mørk

Name of the Library: Halifax Central Library
Parent Organisation:Halifax Regional Municipality and Halifax Public Libraries
Street Address:5440 Spring Garden Road
Postal Address: Halifax, NS B3J 1E9, Canada
Web Address:http://www.halifaxcentrallibrary.ca/

Type of Library : Central/Main Library
Population served:
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres):15,000
Date of Completion:2014
Architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk


The new Halifax Central Library is the most significant public building to be built in Halifax in a generation, and represents the diverse communities, talents, and creativity of the residents of Halifax throughout the municipality and present this to the world.

The new Halifax Central Library is sited on a prominent position in downtown Halifax. The site itself is bound by the heritage neighbourhood of Schmidtville, the historic Citadel Hill, Dalhousie University School of Architecture and the busiest shopping street east of Montreal, Spring Garden Road.

The new library is a multifunctional cultural hub with direct accessibility to the vibrant surrounding urban context of historic and new buildings, and the buzz of downtown. The library building stands as a reflection of the diversity of the community and the modern life within the municipality as a whole, and as a flagship for all 14 branch libraries servicing the whole municipality.

The construction of the library is essentially cubic in form with four significant ‘volumes’ vertically placed on top of one another with a horizontally twisted and shifted facade alignment. A number of distinctive cantilevers and one signature larger cantilevered element create a voluminous expression whereas the remaining façades align elegantly with the neighbouring façade of the classic architecture of Dalhousie University’s Architecture School. From the top of the building – the Halifax Living Room – there is access to an open green roof terrace providing a unique view towards Halifax Harbour, Citadel Hill, the historic George’s Island, Dartmouth and onto McNabs Islands that reaches out towards the North Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk

Every stage of the architectural design process has been carried out through extensive monthly public consultations; and several workshops with various focus groups have been held. Live streaming on the library’s website has ensured all future users of the library have had a substantial influence on the design process. The citizens of Halifax have welcomed this initiative by participating in these events and have provided important contributions, for instance the way green space is represented within the building and how light is brought into the building, the establishment of private spaces and also the priority of seating and workspaces.

The project is aiming ambitiously towards a LEED Gold certification. The façade of the building is intended to reflect the local history of the site which was once a central local ‘garden’ and significant green space within the heart of the city. An abstracted ‘leaf’ motif of varying densities creates a façade that appears more solid in some areas, yet fully open in others reflecting the strong seasonal nature of the much loved trees that surround the site. The approach is to combine this local reference with that of a Scandinavian design signature and to create a modern hybrid library building that will stand out from other public buildings.

Award of Merit in the 2014 Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Design Awards


The Culture Island, Denmark

The culture island
Photo: Adam Mørk

Name of the Library:The Culture Island
Parent Organisation: Middelfart Municipality, Denmark
Street Address:Havnegade 6-10
Postal Address:DK-5500 Middelfart, Denmark
Telephone :+45 8888 5210
Web Address:www.middelfartbibliotek.dk
Library Email: bibliotek@middelfart.dk

Type of Library Multipurpose building, Small Community Library
Population served:38,000
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres):3,000 sq metres (Library)
Date of Completion:2005
Architect:schmidt hammer lassen architects

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk


Culture Island 3
Photo: Adam Mørk

The highly sculptural quality of the new Culture Island energises the newly created peninsula extending from Middelfart’s waterfront. The Culture Island is a multi-building accommodating a whole range of the town’s culture facilities under one roof, including a large new library, a cinema, a panorama restaurant, a café, a tourist information office and the town’s new assembly hall.

The Culture Island is situated on an artificial peninsula in the narrow channel between Jutland and the island of Funen. The peninsula is floating above the water on piles deep in the sea bed, and it is surrounded by an exclusive marina. Standing on the harbour seafront of Middelfart it is easy to understand why the town is known as the Town of Bridges. From the Culture Island there is an impressive view of the two bridges that link Jutland with the island of Funen. The view to the west is of a fine bridge built in 1935 that brings railway traffic over the Little Belt, and to the north can be seen an elegant suspension bridge from 1970 over which motorway traffic crosses between the island and the mainland.

Four large glass panels afford views from the cultural centre over the water, and also admit generous levels of daylight into the interior. These glass panels act as large eyes that look out to all four corners of the world. In the evening, these windows glow and fields of light are reflected in the water. The rest of the façade consists of large surfaces covered with zinc, interrupted by small, vertical slits that project beams of light into the building. The zinc casing gives the building a lightweight look and creates an elegant interplay between the sky and the water.

The Culture Island of Middelfart is created from its surroundings. It is a spectacular architectural sculpture inspired by the sea and by the two distinctive bridges that span the Little Belt on each side of the Culture Island. The trapeze-shaped glass panels and curved surfaces suggest associations with ships and sails. With its dynamic sweeping façades, the Culture Island of Middelfart is a finely honed exercise in dramatic architectural form, further enhanced by the continuously changing light characteristic of the area.

Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark

Dokk1 2
Photo: Adam Mørk

Name of the Library:Dokk1
Parent Organisation: Aarhus Municipality
Street Address:Hack Kampmanns Plads 2
Postal Address: 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Telephone :+ 45 89 40 92 00
Web Address: https://dokk1.dk/

Type of Library : Central/ Main  Library
Population served: Scandinavia’s  largest public library
Project Type: New Building
Size (square metres):35,600
Date of Completion: 2015
Architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk

Dokk1 opened its doors to the public on Saturday, 20 June, becoming the largest public library in the Nordic countries, representing a new generation of modern, hybrid libraries. The 30,000 square metre building is part of the Urban Mediaspace project, which is transforming the harbour front of Aarhus. The project houses the new library, a citizen service centre, automatic parking for 1,000 cars and new harbour-side public squares. With a budget of over € 280 million, it is the largest construction project by the Municipality of Aarhus in the city’s history.

In 2009, schmidt hammer lassen architects won the competition to design the new Urban Mediaspace project as lead architect in collaboration with Kristine Jensens Landscaping and engineering company Alectia.

The large polygonal building is located at the mouth of the Aarhus River, connecting the city with the port and water. Flanked by forests to the north and south, a recreational belt has been created through which a new light railway will run with a dedicated station at Dokk1. Road traffic will be redirected, so that it has direct access to the large under-ground car park beneath the building. New cycle paths run through the scheme that includes over 450 bicycle parking spaces. Dokk1 will become a new hub and metaphorically the “hinge” that opens up to new experiences in Aarhus city.

A covered urban space
The principal idea behind Dokk1 is a transparent covered urban space. Kim Holst Jensen, Senior Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects, explains: “Dokk1 is not simply a building. It is a place for exchanging knowledge and opportunities and a multicultural meeting point that will change people’s perception of the entire city. Dokk1 enhances this special setting with an architecture that creates an exceptional visual connection to the city – both from inside the building and out. Through this, we form an icon for the knowledge society, an icon that supports and stimulates creative collaboration.”

Dokk1 is designed as a polygonal slice that hovers above a glazed building resting on a podium with large sculptural stairs. The stairs fan out to street level and the new harbour promenade surrounding the building. The glass building is designed as an open urban space with 360-degree views of the water, harbour, forest and city. The building has no clear front or back, which is emphasised by the multi-edged top slice that creates the impression of rotation and movement. The facade is made of expanded metal, the scale of the city and harbour is reflected in the design, which twists, breaks and turns. The concept of the façade design is an interaction with the height of the surrounding buildings and the scale of the port with reference to large elements, such as cranes and ships.

Photo: Adam Mørk
Photo: Adam Mørk

Democratic, open and diverse
The polygonal top floor contains the municipal administration offices along with rental offices. The two open levels of the library are connected by the media ramp, which consists of five platforms, each dedicated to an activity: exhibitions, gaming, interactive workshops, reading and events. Combined with the literature and media sections, the media ramp offers a meandering path of activity through the building leading up to the children’s area on the top floor.

“Inside, the open layout creates visual connections between the various functions, and invites the visitor to be inspired by the vast amount of information that inevitably meets them. Openness encourages social interaction and the exchange of information. Dokk1 will become a vibrant space for people of all generations, interests and cultures. Our concept, with interweaving activities and functions, supports this synergy,” concludes Kim Holst Jensen, Senior Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects.

The development of Dokk1 has in many ways influenced how schmidt hammer lassen designs libraries around the world. One example is in the handling of the public consultation, from which we have learnt large amounts. For Dokk1, this process directly influenced the size of the multi-hall and the design of information in the reception area.