The Deichmanske Bibliothek in Oslo is one of the oldest public libraries in Norway. It opened on 12 January 1785, following an endowment from Carl Deichman who also bequeathed 7,000 books and 150 manuscripts which formed the basis of the library’s collection. The new Oslo Public Library’s main branch is being built in the Bjørvika district directly adjacent to the Norwegian Opera.
The new library will boast a modern and dynamic library which houses not only the extensive book collection of Carl Deichman, but also a cinema, media workshops, play areas, lounges and a restaurant.
The positioning of the library offers visitors the best views towards the city, the fjord, the surrounding green hills of Oslo as well as keeping the distance to public transport to a minimum. It also brings activity to the square ‘Operaallmenningen’.
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From the very beginning, the Oslo library has been open to all citizens. At the time most lending libraries charged a membership fee, making it impossible for poorer people to access them. However, the initial collection was largely made up of texts in German, French, Latin and Danish and was therefore largely only of interest to members of the educated upper class.
At the turn of the 19th century, the Dechman library became a model for public libraries throughout the Nordic region. Head librarian Haakon Nyhuus modernized the library along American lines, having spent eight years in America and been inspired by Carnegie libraries. Among his innovations were the introduction of reading rooms and the addition of books for children and young people.
The New Oslo Public Library scheduled to open early next year
The new library is a six-story building with a basement. The main architectural concept is based on the large library space which runs through the center and extends upward across each floor. The translucent facade with cantilevered top floor opens up in the direction of the city center.
The view to the Oslo Opera House is secured by a large cut in the volume, and the idea of the finished library is to take the lead in terms of energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
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The core of the new Deichman library is based on light and space and continuous diagonal views established between the library interior and the surrounding streets/square. Through atriums and discontinued floor plates the library is united with the city outside.
The library is a result of a competition in which the Oslo-based architects Lund Hagem, founded in 1990, won the competition in collaboration with Atelier Oslo. Lund Hagen Architects have won numerous prestigious competitions and received a number of awards and citations for design excellence.
New Oslo Public Library Scheduled to Open Early Next Year, written by Tor Kjolberg