Oslo's long-awaited Deichman Bjørvika central library, which stands alongside the Snøhetta-designed opera house on the city's waterfront, has opened to the public in Norway.
The Deichman Library, which maintains 22 branch libraries, was founded in 1785 when the city (then called Christiania) received Carl Deichman's substantial book collection. A child of the age of the Enlightenment, Deichman made his fortune out of ironworks, though instead of iron, a glasswork today commemorates his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropic streak. Before the construction of Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo’s main library was housed in a Neoclassical building from 1933 in Hammersborg, a part of town that became increasingly isolated after the Oslo terror attacks in 2011 caused tighter security in the government district. The librarians also complained about it being over-crowded.
The underground floor contains auditorium and cinema for large audiences while the two upper floors are connected through the terraced cantilever that creates a perfect hang-out for contemplation where the library opens towards the Oslo fjord and the surrounding landscape.
Replacement for books?
Besides 450,000 books, you can watch movies with your friends, make podcasts, learn to play the piano, sew a dress, use the 3D printers, or just enjoy the view of Oslofjord and the architecture.
The building's folding geometry provides structural strength, and the ground floor façade is completely transparent to enhance the feeling of openness and reinforce the connection with the city.
The fifth floor, which commands a phenomenal view of city, Oslofjord and its islands, rimmed by forested hills. It's here you'll also find the Future Library, a century-spanning art project that collects one manuscript a year from 100 authors (the books will be printed and published in 2114).
The facades of the library are a combination of transparent windows and translucent white glass walls, making the building look blank and nondescript at first glance.
The diffused sunlight through the latter gives the interiors a calm, contemplative atmosphere. It is only in the evening that the lighting gives an insight into the rooms and activities inside the library.
The spatial richness is all the greater and more pleasant inside, where three light wells run diagonally through the house of books and form a large atrium at their intersection. From each entrance, visitors encounter one of these diagonal voids as continuous spaces stretching up through the floors to the origami-like folded ceiling
Reading places and study cells
The library is arranged vertically, with a cinema and 200-seat auditorium in the basement, a cafe, restaurant and newspapers and magazines on the ground floor. The building's interiors were designed by Oslo-based Scenario.
The first floor contains fiction and children's books, while the second and third floor contains more books and several enclosed areas that include recording studios, a mini cinema and gaming rooms.
On the top floor, there are social science books and reading rooms, as well as the Future Library art project.