The Royal Library

Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark, Schmidt Hammer & Lassen Architects
Address: Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1 | COPENHAGEN | Denmark
Latitude/Longitude: 55.673, 12.5815

The Royal Library is with its clean-cut lines and glittering polished surfaces one of the most significant architectural landmarks on the Copenhagen waterfront. Clad in black granite, the extension to the Royal Library is known as The Black Diamond.

Situated in the historic heart of Copenhagen, the extension marks a radical shift from traditional library structure and accommodates a range of cultural facilities. Open and essentially democratic, the building includes scientific and literary institutions, exhibition rooms, a bookshop, a café and a restaurant, as well as a roof terrace and a hall with 600 seats for concerts, theatrical performances, and conferences. 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 books. There are six reading rooms with a total of 486 seats.

The new library has seven storeys plus a basement. The solid black cube is divided in two by a vast glazed atrium housing the majority of public functions. This central space, affording panoramic views over the waterfront, also serves as a significant source of daylight which is dispersed throughout the building.

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. The dynamic rooms are crowded with people and filled with movement and life, and in a sophisticated way, the building connects the public and private areas. The purpose of the public space around the building is to create a natural meeting point for everyone in Copenhagen.

Client: Danish Ministry of Culture
Area: 21,000 m² new build, 7,000 m² conversion
Construction Sum: € 49 million excl. VAT
Competition: 1993, 1st prize in European competition
Status: Completed in 1999
Engineer: Moe & Brødsgaard A/S
Awards: 1999, The Timber Industry Information Council Award, Ground-breaking use of wood
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
Sustainability ventilation: Natural ventilation in the Atrium and hybrid ventilation in the reading rooms.
Daylight: The massing of the building and the central atrium is shaped to optimize the use of natural daylight in the reading rooms.NOISEThe reading rooms occupy a central position within the building, and they are protected from potential noise from the main road which runs through the new library, marking the boundary between the old structure and the new.

Contributed by Schmidt Hammer & Lassen Architects

⇒ Architecture Guide to COPENHAGEN