The international architecture competition to design Oslo’s new main library was won by Lund Hagem and Atelier Oslo architects in 2009. The librarians wanted a house that would inspire visitors to explore all the new facilities and activities the modern library can offer. This motivated us to create an open and intriguing building in which you are constantly invited around the next corner, to discover new places.
The site is relatively small. In order to avoid building too many floors, the building cantilevers out above its footprint: The first floor above the street to the east, and the fourth floor almost 20 meters out above the urban plaza, creating a protective covering for the entrance. This largest cantilever displays the building to the city and still preserves the line of sight to the neighbouring Opera. The cantilevered floors are suspended from the roof above. The roof has a characteristic folded geometry that provides structural strength.
In order to create an enhanced feeling of openness and connection with the city, the ground floor facade is completely transparent. Visitors are received by three equivalent entrances, facing in different directions. Three ‘light shafts’ cut diagonally through the building from each of the entrances, giving a glimpse into different sections of the library. The light shafts connect the floors and distribute daylight downwards from three big skylights in the roof.