Vennesla Library and Culture House / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley

For their new library and community center in , Norwegian architects Helen & Hard bring a sophisticated elegance to the public facility in .  The project links an existing community house and learning center, and seeks to become an extension of the main city square with its transparent facade and urban loggia.   The expressive ribs combine structure, technical infrastructure, and functionality into one architectonic element that creates a dynamic aesthetic identity for the project to meet the client’s original intent to mark the city’s cultural center.

More about the project after the break.

ground floor plan

27 prefabricated glue-laminated timber ribs define the spatial expression of the interior, and their offset construction allows the curves to function as spatial interfaces with inset lighting elements to provide a soft glow to the interiors and acoustic absorbents which contain the air conditioning ducts.  ”In this project, we developed a rib concept to create useable hybrid structures that combine a timber construction with all technical devices and the interior,” explained the architects.The ribs change throughout the interior to inform different spaces; at the main entrance, the rib spans the entire width of the building and then slowly condense to create more intimate rooms.  While the building’s roof is informed by the geometry of the curves, the massing along traces the natural lines of the site and responds to the main street by folding down towards it.

© Emile Ashley

Typical of Helen & Hard’s work, the project also focuses on reducing the energy need through the use of high standard energy saving solutions in all new parts of the project. The library is a “low-energy” building, defined as class “A” in the Norwegian energy-use definition system.

© Emile Ashley

Architects: Helen & Hard
Location: Vennesla, Norway
Team Helen & Hard: Reinhard Kropf, Siv Helene Stangeland, Håkon Minnesjord Solheim, Caleb Reed, Randi Augenstein
Client: Vennesla Kommune
Competition entry: 2009
Completion: 2011
Budget: 66,4 mill NOK (
Area: 1938 sqm gross
Photographs: Emile Ashley

© Emile Ashley

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Vennesla Library and Culture House / Helen & Hard" 20 Feb 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Matt

    Those ribs create a gorgeous space, but I fear that the interiors are not conducive to its program, at least how its laid out. The area with the stacks seems to have quite a bit of underutilized space in the middle of the room (with the centerpiece being a stair downstairs?), and there look to be opportunities for seating while browsing. As well, as beautiful as the integrated bookshelves are, it doesn’t seem to allow for the expansion of the library’s collection (as far as I can tell).

    Otherwise, great looking building, and seems very scaled to the location.

  • Mat Walker

    Sweet! All I can think of though is ArchiCAD 16 loading screen!