Helsingborg Library

a symbiotic experince

The Helsingborg City Library building, even before its completion in 1965, ignited a heated debate due to its location within Stadsparken, the city's cherished park. Many felt it disrupted the park's landscape excessively, tarnishing something deeply beloved. However, over time, the library has garnered recognition and celebration for its gentle integration with the landscape, evolving into a significant cultural landmark and community hub in Helsingborg. The building's initial purpose was to provide a library accessible to all citizens, transcending age and interests.

Expanding on these original ideas, the transformation and extension of the Helsingborg City Library aspire to elevate it into a cultural beacon, aiming to provide spaces where cultural exchange, creativity, and dialogue can flourish both now and in the future. The design draws inspiration from the site's unique spatial, material, and immaterial qualities, nestled within the Stadsparken. While the original library sits atop the park, the new extension gracefully melds with the sloping terrain, minimizing its impact on the park's landscape.

The design emphasizes cohesion between the existing and the new. The interaction between the park and the buildings permeates the design, with large windows framing picturesque views, inviting the park inside, and showcasing the library's diverse programs as living canvases for passersby. At the heart of the new library, the "Hub" rises, connecting functions, activities, and people. In preserving and transforming existing structures, like the 1965 original and the 1994 orangery add-on, the library will offer a recognizable yet modern setting that enhances inherent qualities and adds new ones to the site.

As vital places for cultural exchange and collective memory, libraries represent the cultural heritage of the future. Helsingborg City Library champions sustainability for future generations. It embraces diversity by offering a library landscape with varying spatial qualities, catering to diverse activities and fostering creativity. It's a place for solitude and community, joy and contemplation, interaction and introspection.

01 Upper GF
Helsingborg Axonometric diagram 1 Library
Existing building as an important driving force for the library's new part.
Helsingborg Diagram Keeping orangerie Library
Creating a sequence of focal points.
Helsingborg Diagram Expanding hub Library
Entrance hub - connection between north and south.
Helsingborg Diagram Nord syd connection Library
One library: weaving together the old and new.
Helsingborg Roof Terrace Library

Library in a park
A glowing cultural icon for the future. The red slats light up from the inside at night and interact with the roof of the existing Orangery.

SHL Helsingborg Atrium

Park in the library
Carefully framed visual connections to greenery from all areas, both old and new.

Helsingborg Axo diagram Library

The library's footprint in the park is minimized. A roof garden offers new opportunities and experiences to the community. The heavy base embeds itself in the landscape, and is slowly revealed by the natural slope of the terrain.

Helsingborg Old plan Library
Plan from the 1960s.
SHL Helsingborg 01 Upper GF Cropped Library
Upper ground floor plan with extension.

The building has spaces with inherent qualities that can be given a new life instead of replacing them.

Helsingborg Archive photo 2 Library
SHL Helsingborg Lounge Area Library

A future library landscape with varying spaces that set the tone for different activities and creativity.

Helsingborg Archive photo 3 Library
Helsingborg Youth area Library
View towards the city park from the youth area.
Helsingborg Archive photo 4 Library
Helsingborg Long Section Library
Secret garden, Entrance hub and Orangerie form a sequence of inner plazas
Helsingborg Photo SHL Library
Orangerie Nnw.
Helsingborg Orangeri Library
Becomes a modern and flexible living and activity space.

Keeping the Orangery adds a characteristic and recognizable architectural element. The roof can be repaired and the space updated to modern climate standard.

Helsingborg Sol diagram Library

External solar shading on the south- and west-facing facades is used to provide shade. To provide the best shading, the solar shadings are rotated.


Large, flexible layout where different zones flow into each other in a modern synergy.

Helsingborg Plan sketch PIY 2 Library
Helsingborg Plan sketch PIY Library
Section 1 50 Base
SHL Helsingborg Facade elevation render rammed earth Library

Framing the views

Large windows frame the views in and out and display the various library programs to the city – like living paintings.

SHL Helsingborg Tube 2 Library

Connection between the old and the new celebrates the building's heritage by creating visual and physical connections to the Orangery. Newspapers and magazines as well as the library's reception are located here.

Section 1 50 Hub
North Entrance 2
Helsingborg Main moneyshot exterior Library
Helsingborg, Sweden
Extension 3,000 m2, transformation of existing building 7,000 m2
Helsingborg Municipality
International competition
Landscape Architect:
Masu Planning
Consultant Circular Economy:
MATTER bybrix

With emphasis on creating cohesive synergies between the original Helsingborg City Library and a new extension carved into the sloping park terrain of Stadsparken, the winning proposal is inspired by the site's inherent spatial, material, and immaterial qualities. 

The transformation of the 1965 library building, the Orangery from the mid-90s, and the addition of two new volumes will further enhance Helsingborg City Library's status as a cultural beacon—a gathering point for the citizens, where cultural exchange and dialogue can flow effortlessly between the library's split levels and various functions.

The library's location in one of Helsingborg's most beloved parks, Stadsparken, has been decisive for the architectural approach. While the original building sits at the top of the park, the extension is weaved into the sloping terrain, consciously subjecting itself to the landscape's conditions in an effort to minimize its footprint in the park. 

At the point where the original structure and the new terrain-integrated expansion meet, the "Hub" rises—a double-height transparent space that will become the library's new heart. Here, past and present, north and south come together in a beautiful and prominent volume, whose red slats illuminate from within at night, visually supporting the vision of creating a cultural beacon.

Helsingborg Diagram Park and water connection Library
Helsingborg Hub Heart Axonometric diagram Library
Helsingborg Moneyshot interior Library

Where the existing building is characterized by a sequence of inward-facing spaces, the extension expresses itself as a series of outward-facing experiences. The interchange between the interior and the exterior reoccurs throughout the design, where large panoramic windows frame views of the surrounding lush parkscape while simultaneously showcasing the library's various programs to the city—like a collection of living paintings unfolding before the eyes of passersby.

An atrium works as a “secret garden” at the heart of the extension and provides inflow of daylight as well as a space for recreation and contemplation in a natural setting.

SHL Helsingborg Facade elevation render rammed earth Library
SHL Helsingborg Atrium

The complex has a large, flexible floor plan where different zones flow into each other in a modern synergy. Flexibility and adaptability are prioritized to ensure the library's ability to meet future needs, while each zone has its own spatial identity.

4 images
SHL Helsingborg Lounge Area Library
SHL Helsingborg Tube 2 Library
SHL Helsingborg Movie opt B Library
SHL Helsingborg Existing meets new

The architectural expression of the original library building from 1965 is preserved, while the interior space allocation is adjusted, and functions are rearranged to meet contemporary needs. The building is a house with a past and a future, which the proposal respects and celebrates.

In addition to the original library building, the proposal also preserves the “The Orangery”, a criticized centrally located addition from 1994. As a characteristic and recognizable architectural feature, it helps convey the building’s history and ongoing development while providing inflows of daylight to enter the heart of the 1965 volume. By updating the structure to meet modern climate standards, it is reintroduced as a flexible learning space for co-creation and as an important link between the surrounding activities in the original library building.

Helsingborg Diagram Transformation Orangerie Library
Helsingborg Orangerie Library

By establishing a green, recreational rooftop park, the building gives back what it takes and simultaneously creates space for new possibilities, experiences, and contemplation with a view towards the horizon.

Helsingborg Roof Terrace Library

Libraries are important places for cultural exchange and collective memory. They are the cultural heritage of the future and must therefore embody sustainability for future generations. Helsingborg City Library embraces diversity by offering a future library landscape with varying spatial qualities that set the tone for different activities and creativity. A place to be alone, together, and alone-together. A place of joy and wonder, a place for contemplation and interaction among people. The winning proposal both unlocks the inherent qualities and potential of the existing library and adds new layers to the library's narrative.