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Ibsen Library

Skien/ Norway

Size/ 9.800 m²
Competition/ 2019, International competition
Status/ Construction period 2021-2025
Client/ Municipality of Skien
Landscape Architect/ SLA
Local Architect/ Rambøll Norge
Engineer/ Rambøll Norge

The new Ibsen Library, located at the unique and complex Meierikvartalet site in Skien, Norway, is an institution that honors the legacy of famed playwright Henrik Ibsen. Just steps from Ibsen’s birthplace, the library will be a cultural highlight of Skien’s town centre and will make it a key driver of its cultural building programming and tourism for years to come. The new library will house exhibition and performance spaces that will allow visitors to experience the work and influence of Henrik Ibsen, as well as a citizens’ service center, tourist information center, and offices.

The site overlooks four streets on three different levels. Its porous, inclusive, welcoming nature invites the city in.

The Ibsen Library is not just a library building. It is a journey that promotes user movement through the Meierikvartalet via the linked indoor and outdoor spaces.

The building is a series of volumes that functionally and architecturally form part of a cohesive whole. The library’s silhouette follows the southward sloping grounds; the building revealing itself step by step.

Inside, the Sølvåren is a series of rooms one walks in and through as part of the journey. It acts as the connective tissue of the building.

Composite contrasts are an important driving force behind the functional disposition.

The library offers large, flexible common rooms that are complemented by more introverted, intimate places like the ones found in Ibsen's works. The Ibsen Library functional programme accommodates both the future library and an artistic dissemination center for one of the world's most known playwrights.

The three outdoor rooms with each its various characters are Glass House, Stage and Ibsen's Garden. Visual and physical synergy between Ibsen's Garden and the library is a pervasive theme in the project.

The reading room overlooks the trees in the quieter part of garden, but young users will be able to enjoy the green areas in the northeast corner. The northwest corner will house the playground and is easily accessible via the passage from the street and from in-side the library. In Ibsen's Garden there is room for various library activities alone or with others.

Just like Ibsen himself, the building is not afraid of contrasts or coexistence of different interests, which are some of the basic principles behind library as the democratic space of society. The theatrical and poetic character of the library reveals itself in diversity of spatiality and materiality. The Ibsen Library in the Meierikvartalet is a new cultural icon, a crucial step in the cultural trans-formation and urban development in the center of Skien.

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