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Vennesla Library and Culture House, Norway

Name of the Library: The Vennesla Library and Culture House
Parent Organisation:The Vennesla municipality

Street Address: Venneslamoen 19, Vennesla
Postal Address: Box 70, 4702 Vennesla Norway
Telephone :
+47 38137300
Web Address: http://www.vennesla.kommune.no/Kulturhuset/Vennesla-bibliotek/
Library Email: bibliotek@vennesla.kommune.no

Type of Library: Central Library, Joint use
Population served: 12.356
Project Type: New Building
Conversion Extension xNew Building Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 1.900 m2
Date of Completion 2011
Architect Helen and Hard

Vennesla library interior

The Vennesla Library and Culture House is a public library serving the inhabitants of Vennesla Municipality in Vest-Agder, Norway. The new library building completed in 2011 has won several architecture prizes and has been praised both within Norway[2] and abroad.[3]

The Municipality of Vennesla decided in 2005 to relocate the library to the city centre, linking together an existing community house and learning centre into a cultural centre. A café, open meeting places and a small scene were incorporated into the plan of the new building, making it a combined library and house of culture. With the new building, the municipality sought both to establish a public meeting place and to increase the quality of architecture in the urban area of Vennesla. An architectural design competition was initiated in 2008; it was won by the firm Helen & Hard from Stavanger, Norway and the new building was ready in 2011.

vennesla kulturhuset-banner

The main building material is wood, and the building is dominated by the 27 glue-laminated timber arcs that support the roof and give associations to ribs of a whale skeleton. The building has attracted much interest and won several prizes, among them Statens byggeskikkpris for 2012 (the Norwegian state prize for good buildings).[4] The building has, however, also received criticism for lacking functionality for its main purpose, namely being a library building. The author of an opinion piece in the Norwegian weekly Morgenbladet maintained that the library building was beautiful, yet inconvenient for normal library use.[5]

Photographs of the library are being spread around the world.
Huffington Post asked if this library is the most beautiful library in the world. ArchDaily writes that the library has a sophisticated elegance and Wallpaper describes the library as a library with strong identity.

In Norway there have been discussions about the library; “The winner of the Norwegian state prize for good building 2012 was the library in Vennesla. And it is a nice house. But is it a good library? All the shelfs, benches and the rest of the inventory is a part of the construction. A building where its usability seems to be of second importance and where its style hint more towards jewelry design than adapting to acquiring knowledge. Is it really aesthetics in itsself that is judged to be the greatest architecture of our time?”)

Awards, case studies, further information
Norwegian state prize for good building 2012