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Stockholm
Library

Stockholm - Sweden
2006
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Historically a library consisted of book-lined rooms, whereas the late twentieth century model was open plan with arrays of book stacks. The New Stockholm City Library seeks to play down the classification of media. It is part town hall, where people meet, and part department store where people roam. It is a place to gather knowledge and a place to dwell. Asplund’s library was compact, and with the central rotunda simple to comprehend. Its classical form signified its public status, its presence in the city tempered by the bazaar within the socle.
In the new building the section underpins the visitor’s ability to navigate the library. Although 8-storey, primary storeys reduce the building to three: the metro and new shopping galleria beneath the Odenplan (15.06), the floor of Asplund’s Rotunda (18.80) and the roofline of Asplund’s wings (30.80), each of which relates directly to its surroundings. The new building is oblong in plan, and shares dimension and proportions with Asplund’s original. It is bisected by the perpendicular axis of the Observatory, forming two distinct but unequal parts. This is most obvious in the way the top storey (30.80) reads as discrete closed volumes each housing two libraries. Below the open plan (18.80), reflects the more complex relationships with the street, the contours of Observatory Hill and function. Inside, 18.80 is the public arrival level, this links old and new, integrating many of the secondary uses and four of the libraries: Fiction (in the old), Arts, Aesthetics and Childrens’ (in the new). These libraries inhabit a 12m high volume. Upstairs at 30.80 the four remaining libraries inhabit 14m high volumes. A totemic structure of eight rooms, Discovery libraries and areas for young people denote the subjects without defining boundaries. In contrast to the original rotunda these rooms, like woodland glades, are places to visit and congregate. The scheme is supported by a benign logistical system for distributing and retrieving media which is integrated into the democratic and atmospheric library without imposing a technocratic/ systematic reading within the interior. The superstructure is in situ concrete, support coming from the screens lining the eight rooms, from fins oriented north south (18.80) and east west (30.80) and from the cores. Elevations are also concrete, a mix of rough (like Asplund’s render) and polished precast elements.