Inside Danish Architecture – The Library

by | 07. Feb 2018

Inside Danish Architecture | Library | Public/ leisure | Video

The Library, a striking building designed by the Copenhagen-based architecture studios COBE and Transform, was conceived in response to a competition launched by the Copenhagen Municipality in 2009. The Municipality sought a new public landmark which would be visible above the high-rise developments under construction in northwest Copenhagen.

COBE and Transform’s winning proposal was to renovate and extend the existing culture house while offering the site a new character altogether. The four overhanging golden blocks, which the architects refer to as a ‘stack of books’, also aimed to ‘bring the community together’.

Today, seven years after the building was completed, the library remains very popular with young children and families, especially at weekends. The full-height atrium encourages circulation through the building via a network of staircases and balconies with views down to the children’s library below. The public access to the northern courtyard is maintained through the building, yet appears to be rarely used.

The overhanging concert hall at the top of the building now hosts a lively program of events which run throughout the year. Below the hall can be found two levels of interconnecting bookcases, catering to both teenage and adult readers. The Library also accommodates public craft workshops with facilities such as sewing machines and a potters wheel. The Danish Citizen Service, ‘Borgerservice’ has also moved in to the building.

Kristoffer Lindhardt Weiss and Kjeld Vindum , authors of ‘ Den ny bølge i dansk arkitektur ’ / ‘The new wave of Danish architecture’, suggest The Library exemplifies a new departure in Scandinavian architecture.

This new wave collects the ambitions of young Danish architecture offices, including BIG and Adept among others, who have risen to significant international notoriety meanwhile contributing to the branding of Denmark as an ‘architecture nation’.

A compelling architectural feature is the perforated gold anodized aluminum cladding which transforms both the exterior facade and inner atrium. COBE have since gone on to experiment with gold facades in other projects such as the 2016 Ragnarock museum.

There are instances where cladding overlaps the fenestration to create levels of transparency, allowing the building to take on a distinctive character at night, revealing details hidden during daylight hours.


black and white section drawing

The Library section drawing © COBE

black and white section drawing

The Library section drawing © COBE

black and white plan drawing

The Library plan drawing © COBE


The focus of the arcspace ‘Inside Danish Architecture’ series is to get to know Danish architecture through the dynamic qualities of its spaces by combining text and video in a multimedia format. Each experiential walk-through draws on the qualities of light, sound and movement often overlooked by static photography. The projects covered in the series will be selected due to their contemporary cultural relevance and technological innovation, whether they are cutting-edge or retrospective. Check in again next month for the next edition of Inside Danish Architecture or for more videos from around the world check out ArchiShorts on YouTube.