Copenhagen’s New Modern library
Architect: Nathalie Eldan Architecture
Client: AWR International Ideas Competition
Status: Competition (2014)
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Coordinates: 55.684394, 12.595687
Climate: Oceanic / maritime, Temperate
Materials: Glass, Metal
Environments: Urban, Seaside
Visualizer: Studio
Scale: 2.013 ㎡ Medium
Types: Education, Library

It is more than a library, it works as an indoor/outdoor adaptable interface for Copenhagen’s community life.


The New modern library is located in the very center of Copenhagen among a variety of landmarks plugged into the waterfront “promenade”, starting from the little mermaid in the north going through the Royal Danish playhouse, to Nyhavn, crossing the bridge, going through the Experimentarium city until the Opera House.

This location offers the Modern library an important role to play in its relation between the waterfront and the city residents.

As part of the copenhagen’s urban strategies to transform the industrial port into a cultural and social center of the city, it was essential to propose a deeply urban library, interacting from the inside and outside with the residents and visitors and acting as an interface for community life.

Process and adaptation to the site

– The site is approximately 1700m² and fonctions today as a parking lot for buses. It’s main feature is the presence of the waterfront and the view towards Copenhagen Opera House and the Royal Danish Playhouse.
– In order to preserve the existing urban fabric of the neighborhood, especially the Tolbogade Street, the first operation was to align the library to the nearby building and to the street, knowing Tolbogade street façade is the most “connected” to the neighbourhood.
– The two other operations concern the orientation of the library towards the main views ; the first one is towards the Royal Danish Playhouse, and the second towards Copenhagen Opera House.
– The waterfront location makes the Library site a very strategic area. In order to strengthen the link between the residents/visitors to the water, a «Soft Edge» was created. This edge is where things happen, where a lively public space becomes possible. The ground floor is where the communication between the building inside and outside occurs. This “Soft Edge” becomes possible thanks to the open-door habited terraced roof and to the porous and dynamic outdoor public space connected to the water.

The inside. Out concept

Rather than creating a traditional and conventional library, the building offers a lively urban landscape: on the outside, a terraced roof creates a dynamic outdoor public space, whereas inside, is the library, with a flexible space dedicated to social and educational activities.

The terraced roof is a place to relax and enjoy the view or «hang out» outside when the weather permits. It enables public events, such as music concerts or festivals on the water.

This proposal interacts with the city as much as possible and tries to interpret the way of life in Copenhagen which radically changes along the seasons. It interacts with its habitants and community and proposes a flexible inside/out library program where it’s main consultation and readers workspace, on the 3rd floor, along with the cafeteria can be adapted to various social and educational activities such as meetings, exhibitions and social events. This space can also be totally autonomous from the other library rooms. This way the main library can remain closed while the Community flexible space is open. However the main entrance to the library remains at ground floor where the entrance hall articulates the flow of people coming from Tolbogade street and from the south.

The main architectural feature lies in the permanent interaction of the library users with the public space, surrounding buildings and landmarks; From the inside, while reading, or consulting books, or from the outside with the large terraced roof acting as a symbolic link between the water, the library, and the community.

The library

The building’s orientations favorises the visual connections with the main landmarks in the area: Copenhagen’s Opera house and the Royal Danish Playhouse. Also the high glass facade has a dominant role in the users views; It enables transparency and allows permanent eye contact from the inside with the surrounding buildings in the background, acting like a decor to the library. During the night the building acts as a lamp illuminating the outdoor spaces.

The terraced roof is a place to enjoy the view, it’s a dynamic public space interacting with the Library (01). After parking the bicycle on Tolbogade street the visitor arrives to the Entrance Hall (02). The ground floor is therefore separated into two parts. Coming from the north, on the right side, is the information and control desk (03), the lockers space (04) and the security guard office (05). The bookshop is the main feature of this space (06). On the ground floor is also located the library administration office (08), in permanent contact with the entrance hall. A thematic exhibition space is also available which can be eventually used as an auditorium space (09) along with the kids area (10) where can be found children books. The library dialogs with Copenhagen’s residents and community and proposes an adapted area at the readers workspace and foyer (21), cafeteria and kitchenette (22-23), these can be transformed to be used for social and educational activities such as meetings, exhibitions and city events.

All these numerous conceptual, programmatic and urban aspects of this proposal make the library innovative and adapted to nowadays uses.

It emerges as a core of information, knowledge and dialog within the Copenhagen community creating a space to encourage socialization and education along with a lively dedicated public space.

Competition: Library in København | Post date: 27/09/2015 | Views: 8.295