Inspired in part by the Roman Colosseum, a new library in Sweden by ADEPT successfully integrates the needs of the University with those of the citizens of the town.
In an age where e-books and e-readers threaten to outsell traditional books, it is reassuring to see new libraries being opened up. Sweden’s Dalarna University recently threw open the doors of the Dalarna Media Library (DML) to the public. Danish design firm Adept along with Japanese SOU Fujimoto Architects won a competition to create this new 300 sq m library with an adjoining plaza in Falun, Sweden.
Adept is based in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Guangzhou (China) and practises architecture, planning and landscape design. The studio was founded in Denmark in 2006 by Anders Lonka, Martin Laursen and Martin Krogh.
The Library takes some of its inspiration from the Colosseum in Rome with its deep arena from which rise several levels for the audience. Thankfully, there are no fights with lions in this modern interpretation. Instead, the brightly lit and welcome space houses students grappling with their studies and searching for information.
The striking double facade has a layer of reflecting horizontal lamellae in front of Siberian larch wood cladding. The double facade protects the studio spaces inside from direct sunlight and enhances the effect of transition from the outside to the inside. The building itself is like a work of art with the lamellae (made from highly polished stainless steel) reflecting the surroundings and the people in it.
The library is now the new hub and the entry point to the University. The surrounding landscape was redesigned to reflect this and now includes new parking lots with a ramp. The areas throughout the building are divided into clearly defined activity and recreational zones; these make the whole area come alive.
Because the library is open to the public it also benefits the citizens of the town and local businesses who use it as a meeting space. New activities and events are in the pipeline to make the library more vibrant and useful throughout the year.
Much like the Colosseum, the DML is organised as a “spiral of knowledge” with various levels rising from the arena pit to create self-sufficient and intimate areas at each level. Stairs curve around the central atrium leading to three floors of books and multimedia.
The design successfully allows users to choose between participating in louder, communal events for group study in the ‘heart of the library’, or retreat into quieter study niches at higher levels which have views of the surrounding hills. There are also separate audio zones sealed off from the rest of the quieter space.
The steps double up as seating space for concerts that are performed in the central atrium while a large television screen is used to project news, concerts, sport and movies.
The white wall-to-ceiling shelving curves through the library creating both layers and niches. Interestingly, the shelves continue to flow along the staircases, creating additional, informal reading areas. A range of colourful furniture from long-legged chairs to squat loungers with round white tables creates an inviting atmosphere for study. Computers at eye-level make searching the library catalogue easier.
“The library has really become just the study environment and the meeting place that we hoped for it to be. The students took it to their hearts instantly and have been using the various group spaces and the rest of the study options intensively. Often all the group rooms are fully booked. The Library has even become a very popular place to meet each other – and already we have a load of activities planned which will take place in the arena,” says Margareta Malmgren, Library Director at the University.
The library successfully bridges the divide between private and public spaces in the town and becomes a new area that everybody can enjoy. Its thoughtful design has already received recognition with the first prize in the “Higher Education and Research” category at the World Architecture Festival 2014.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Wilhelm Rejnus & Linus Flodin, Kaare Viemose