Controversial choice for new Stockholm library

A German architect has beaten off strong international competition to design Stockholm's new public library. Heike Hanada's ten-floor design was described by the jury as "a new, visible public building."

Controversial choice for new Stockholm library

The new library will be built close to the current public library, designed by Gunnar Asplund in 1918. Handa’s library “provides a clear backdrop to the Asplund building in the classic view from Odengatan,” according to the competition’s jury.

But the decision to place a tall, ultra-modern construction next to the eighty-year-old existing library is already proving controversial.

Svenska Dagbladet’s architecture expert, Ola Andersson, said the design was “too great an encroachment on Asplund’s composition.”

Andersson objected to the decision to build “a ten-floor building that is taller than the [existing] city library.” He added that the jury had fallen for the temptation to choose the most spectacular design.

Dagens Nyheter’s architecture expert, however, said he was pleased with the choice, saying it was a “transparent, open and light library that gives air around Asplund’s building.”

The jury said the design “creates a distance to the Asplund building that enables two distinguished buildings to be in symbiosis on the site with clear space and respectful distance to each other.”

The new library will have a large communal open area at street level, from where visitors will be able to “read today’s paper, drink a cup of coffee, and take a short-cut through the library to Sveavägen away from the weather or a convenient route up to the Observatory park,” the jury said.

Hanada, born in 1964, lives and works in Weimar, Germany. She said her design was intended to complement Asplund’s building.

“I found it difficult to place a large building right next to Asplund’s library. To me the inner courtyard and the low-rise entrance section between the high buildings are a way of marking a distance, creating a rhythm and a tranquillity in the townscape,” she said.

The design, which Hanada has named Delphinium, “is the proposal that best corresponds to the vision of a light, open and communicative library. The project has considerable potential to be developed into a well-functioning library in accordance with the vision in the brief,” according to the citation.