The Royal Library

Copenhagen/ Denmark

Size/ 21,000 m² new build/ 7,000 m² conversion
Cost/ € 49 million excl. VAT
Competition/ 1993, 1st prize in European competition
Status/ Completed in 1999
Client/ Danish Ministry of Culture
Engineers/ Moe & Brødsgaard A/S
Interior design/ shldesign
Awards/ 1999, The Timber Industry Information Council Award/ 2000, The Architecture Prize of the Municipality of Copenhagen/ 2000, Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award/ 2001, The Nykredit Architecture Prize/ 2003, Du Pont Benedictus Award

The extension to the Royal Library is one of the most significant architectural landmarks on the Copenhagen waterfront. Open and essentially democratic, the building includes a café, bookshop, exhibition room, restaurant, scientific and literary institutions, as well as a roof terrace and a 600-seat hall for concerts, theatrical performances and conferences, along with six reading rooms with a total of 486 seats. The solid black cube is divided in two by a vast glazed atrium, housing the majority of its public functions.

Situated in the historic heart of Copenhagen, the extension marks a radical shift from traditional library structure and accommodates a range of cultural facilities.

Clad in black granite, the extension to the Royal Library is known as the ‘Black Diamond’ – with its clean cut lines and glittering polished surfaces, the library is one of Copenhagen’s architectural gems.

The central space, affords panoramic views over the waterfront, and also serves as a significant source of daylight which is dispersed throughout the building.

Alongside acclaimed artist Per Kirkeby we identified the link area between the old library and the new building as a critical space, where an artwork could positively enhance the sense of connection that we were trying to create. Kirkeby suspended a large circular canvas floating above the information desk, a painting that announces the transition between old and new.

The extension has doubled the library’s overall size – the open shelves can accommodate more than 200,000 books compared to the previous capacity of 45,000.

The Royal Library has become an icon for Copenhagen – a prominent, accessible and public focal point for the life in the city. The aim of the design was to create an informal meeting place for citizens in Copenhagen, students, tourists and restaurant guests.

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