Report from visit to the New Deichman library
On a rather blustery but sunny day, 20 Forum members met outside the new Deichman Library in Bjørvika. We gazed at this impressive building shining in the sun, looking forward to a guided tour by the architects, Einar Hagem from Lund Hagem Arkitekter and Marius Mowe from Atelier Oslo. They won the Library Design Competition in 2009 and the building construction began in 2014.
Our tour started outside, with the architects explaining the reasons behind the special shape and design of this building. It is placed diagonally to the Opera House so as not to block the view of the Opera and the fjord. The most striking feature – from the outside – is the cantilevered structure, jutting 18 metres outwards from the top and 20 metres over ground. We were later to hear how this was possible…
The space between the library and the Opera is very attractive with sculptures and a small lake. On benches, people were relaxing in the sun. The architects emphasised that the whole area, both inside and outside the library, should be a place for people to enjoy free of charge. What a wonderful gift to the public!
We were set up in two groups of 10, imposed by the Corona restrictions, and went inside. We were struck by the view all the way up to the ceiling, where three shafts stream light from pentagonal openings in the roof.
The building is open from the ground floor to the top, with galleries all around containing books, activities and people. The total impression as one comes inside is one of height, light, glass, steel, concrete, and angular shapes. The ground floor is like a plaza with a café, restaurant, automated points for borrowing and returning books, and information desks.
We then descended to the basement. The interior is of dark raw steel. Light comes from the three staircases and the colours of books on the shelves brighten the room. These books, previously stored in archives, are now available to the public. There is also a cinema and an auditorium – the Deichman room – that can seat up to 200 people. This room has several uses and can be booked for events.
Einar Hagem talked about the materials used in the building which is ‘green’ and energy efficient. All the plastic is environment friendly. The ‘technical’ floors with vents provide ventilation and let out heat that has accumulated in the concrete as part of the heating system. Special attention has been paid to acoustics: the honeycomb plastic foam ceiling and the perforated interior walls efficiently reduce noise. The outer walls have a double layer of translucent glass panels, but some panels are of clear glass to reveal lovely views.
We then took the escalators, especially narrow to ensure single file and no pushing, to the upper floors. The 1st floor (2nd floor in Norway, always confusing!) contains fiction and the children’s department with books, play areas and workshops.
The 2nd floor is called the technical floor. As well as music and films, there are workshops for creative people. Here one can borrow technical equipment, 3D-printers, tools, sewing machines etc., and also attend courses.
The 3rd (4th) floor is mainly for quieter activities, like studying. Small rooms, individual desks, and textbooks on various subjects are available.
On all floors, delightful small niches, where one can sit with a book or just relax, have been integrated into the interior. One such niche, glassed in, contains artefacts from the old Deichman Library. On each floor there is a book-sorting room. The books are transported on a conveyer belt system which connects with all the floors in the library, much facilitating the work of the librarians.
We ended up on the top floor – named Kringsjå because of the view – which juts out from the main building. Mr Hagem explained about the construction of this special feature. It is made of ‘folded concrete’ which is very strong. The weight of the jutting-out cantilevered structure is balanced by weights in the main building behind, like a crane, which is why it does not fall down!
The top floor also holds rooms for quiet pursuits. Here we find the ‘Future library’, an art project by Scottish Katie Peterson, which will contain unpublished manuscripts by famous authors, deposited here once a year, and not to be opened until 2114, a hundred years after the building of this library began. Margaret Atwood was the first author to place a manuscript here. Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgård is the sixth and will deposit his text this year. You can read more about this special project in the link at the end of this report.
Our President, Anita Pratap, thanked Einar Hagem and Marius Moye, for the very interesting tour of this amazing building.
Below is a link which contains photos and text about the library and the video of a guided tour by Merete Lie, Director of the new Deichman Library. When looking at the video, click on YouTube for a good sized picture. Enjoy!
A big thank you to the Special Events Committee for arranging this visit.