Gothenburg’s new university library is to be located between the city center and the Näckrosen university campus, between large and small scale – intense and quiet – on one of the best sites in the city – in the heart of Näckrosen Park. Like a lighthouse on a hill, the university library will be a new landmark, lighting up from within and looking out over its surroundings.
A careful analysis of the site led to a deliberate decision to open up the landscape and Näckrosen Park’s rich environment, by creating a visual and a physical connection between the campus area and the nearby Korsvägen public square and transport hub.
This connection is established by minimizing the library’s footprint, which in turn separates it from the adjacent existing building and yeilds its compact volume. The new university library becomes a natural part of an ensemble of stand-alone buildings in the park – while at the same time it thoughtfully stands out through its vertical expression, materiality and color.
No matter the direction one approaches the university library from, you are welcomed and drawn in to its visually open and transparent ground floor. Much like an open book, the library invites you inside, from both its campus and its city sides.
The façade appears as an open book. This expression is created by a series of vertically extruded ceramic tiles that bring to mind the pages of a book. This uniform element façade is produced under factory conditions and transported to the construction site for assembly – increasing the quality and precision, and reducing on-site assembly time.
The geometry of the façade’s 5 distinct elements is parametrically optimized in relation to daylight conditions – positioned on the façade with a more open spacing in the center of the volume and a tighter spacing near the corners. In this way, the glass area of the building is reduced where internal overheating typically occurs. The extruded ceramic tiles are also shading devices themselves, further reducing the amount of sun that enters the building.
The ground floor entrance area is placed so that it connects the city and campus. It is intended as a large and bustling meeting place where the activities that will take place there flow together with the surroundings. The level difference found in the landscape is elegantly taken up by flexible stairs with seating that can be used for many activities – such as study, a café, or audience seating for an event.
The library houses a multitude of spatial experiences – from the open, bright, and magnificent – to the intimate and tranquil. This is emphasized by a finely calibrated use of diverse materials, from light and robust granite on the ground floor to the warmer environments of the upper floors, featuring wood and textiles.
This highly intentional choice of materials is also reflected in the building’s load-bearing system, which will be a hybrid between concrete and wood. These distinct materials are used purposefully based on their specific properties. Concrete is highly visible on the lower floors of the building where it allows for greater openness, while wood beams are used for the smaller spaces found on the upper library and office floors. The design is optimized to reduce the CO₂ impact of the building’s construction.
In the library’s very center, an automated book depository stands spectacularly as the core of knowledge, surrounded by the building’s varied functions. Elevators and other self-contained functions are located along two closed ends of the book depository, which lend a high degree of flexibility to the floor plan.
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Client: Akademiska Hus
Program: University library
Size: 16,300 m²
Year: First prize in competition 2021, completed in 2028
Collaborators: Buro Happold
Team: Birk Folke Daugaard, Caroline Rosenberg, Dan Stubbergaard, Dorte Buchardt Westergaard, Francisco José Gómez Tirado, Jacob Blak Henriksen, Margarita Nutfulina, Max Neumeister, Simon Sjökvist, Thomas Krarup, Tonny Jensen, Turid Ohlsson, Ursulo Peniche, Yinan Sun
Additional photos: Gunnar Klack (flickr)