Halmstad Library

Halmstad Library in Halmstad, Sweden by Schmidt Hammer Lassen

For their competition-winning design for the Halmstad Library along the Nissan River in Halmstad, Sweden, the Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen created a building that interacts with the historical city through its siting, form and facades.

Perhaps the most overt gesture of the three-story, 8,000 sm (86,000 sf) building is the way it reaches out and actually sits above the water, rather than sitting back from its shoreline. This decision achieves a few things: it allows pedestrian movement along the edge of the river to continue under the library unobstructed; it gives visitors a unique vantage point on a deck at the building's tip; and it elevates the library's status in Halmstad by giving it a prominent position in the cityscape.

The building's form is roughly a curvilinear bar. The entry overlooking a hardscape plaza is a subtle curve, while the opposite facade's curve is a tighter arc that embraces the adjacent greenery and mature trees. This respect for the site's landscape extends to the entry atrium, which is "set around a large existing chestnut tree." According to the architect, "nature, the seasons and the city all become part of the library."

The open interior is a product not only of its open plan and shape but also the building's transparent exterior. As evident in the image at left, this gives the library another strong connection to its surroundings, this time from the inside-out. This curve and its transparency also allow views from one side of the library to another, a unique condition that allows the greenery to permeate a zone between inside and inside. Lastly, the transparent exterior allows the building to glow at night, further elevating its position in Halmstad.