Diploma 2014: "EX LIBRIS" by Katrine Wang Høiem

Proposal for a New Public Library in the City Center of Grimstad

Grimstad is a small town in Southern Norway. It has 20,000 inhabitants and 2,500 students, and is the smallest university town in Norway. In 1622, Grimstad became a recognized harbor, and the sea still plays an important part in the town’s economy – especially in the summer when the warm weather attracts thousands of tourists.

Considering the size, the town has an active cultural life and arranges several festivals and happenings during the summer. However, the town’s public library is small and dysfunctional, and the discussion concerning a new library has been ongoing for 30 years. The goal is to have the building finished be­fore the town’s 200 year anniversary in 2016.

In 2008 the city council of Grimstad decided to build a new library by the docks, which was originally supposed to be completed in 2011. However, the plans were postponed for an indefinite pe­riod due to budget disagreement. Because the town’s library has not been prioritized, the inhabitants haven’t had the opportunity to experience what an important role a public library can have in a community, and some seems to have the attitude that it’s not worth the cost. This diploma project aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion in Grimstad of what a library can be and what role it can play in a community.

To attract people that don’t usually use the library, location is important. It should be a place that people pass and can accidentally stumble into. The site chosen for this project is an area on the dock that once was the town’s Bus station. The site lies between the shopping mall “Odden” and the center of the old town, and people pass this particular spot at all times to get to the other part of town. The site is an empty square that is not in use today, and is the border between the new and the old town. This means that a new building in this site can connect new and old, big and small.

Considering the size, location at the docks and proximity to activities in the town, the site is among the best in Grimstad, and should therefore be used for a public purpose. A town square in conjunction with a new library gives the inhabitants all-year, non-commercial meeting points – outdoor as well as indoors.

The library consists of many volumes in different heights and sizes, which gives it a humble expression as well as an urban expression – it is a “library town”. Between the volumes, public streets and squares appear, inside and outside. They become a part of the town’s existing sequence of streets, alleys and squares, and are a continuation of the town movement.

A glass roof connects the volumes housing the library programs. It creates an indoor public passage that can be held open after the library’s closing time. During the day, this becomes a part of the meeting area in the li­brary and functions in the same way as a passage in a street market.

All photos: Katrine Wang Høiem

Iso: isometric drawing showing the different programs (library, administration, additional)


Modellfoto2: interior of lending area


Modellfoto3: different roof heights of library complex


Modellfoto4: Whole complex


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