Banks of River Aarhus to house new public cultural realm
Assuming inspiration from the Oslo Opera House and London's South Bank cultural precinct, the banks of the Aarhus in Denmark will integrate Scandinavia's largest library into its landscape. Designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects (SHL Architects) the international competition-winning design for 'Urban Mediaspace' will merge with its surroundings by graduating its surrounding public space towards the river.
Urban Mediaspace is part of a wider plan to regenerate the old cargo docks on the harbour front, connecting it to the old city centre. The competition jury described SHL Architects’ design as: “a beautiful and highly-functional city harbour space, reflecting a deep understanding of the challenges faced when designing a public library. The new areas will offer flexible and exciting spaces with many possibilities for socialising and contemplation.”
SHL's €228 million scheme will become a new visual and cultural focal point for the city whilst pioneering the next generation of library design. The innovative 30,000 sq m scheme reassesses traditional concepts of library design. Instead of a building focused around books, “Urban Mediaspace” is a hub of social interaction, incorporating interior and exterior recreational spaces for studying, socialising, and relaxing. The building will also have the capacity to host multi-media and cultural events.
The building’s distinctive heptagonal-shape design will be a landmark in Aarhus. The library’s offices will have impressive panoramic views over the harbour with steps leading out on to the waterfront. SHL Architects’ design connects the library to the Aarhus River by creating an external recreational area that will run along the south side of the “Urban Mediaspace”. The building’s glazed façade will create light, well-ventilated interior spaces whilst also making the inside of the library visible to passersby, inviting the community inside.
Partner of SHL Architects Kim Holst Jensen said:
“We are delighted to have won such a prestigious and culturally important project. At SHL Architects we believe that library design is about more than just books. Libraries revolve around people and should provide flexible spaces for social interaction as well as studying. “Urban Mediaspace” further establishes the practice as leaders of this democratic, social kind of library design.”