The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has named Schmidt Hammer Lassen's Dokk1 Library in Aarhus, Denmark as the winner of the Public Library of the Year Award 2016.
By beating out the SOM-designed Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Libary; the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre in Geelong, Australia, designed by ARM architecture; and the Success Public Library by Bollig Design Group; Dokk1 became the first Danish library to win the award.
Completed in June 2015, Dokk1 is Scandinavia’s largest public library, containing space for a citizen service center, offices and automated parking for up to 1,000 vehicles. Its large staircases and outdoor areas connect the building to its site at the mouth of the Aarhus River, allowing the library to become a meeting point for the exchange of knowledge and opportunities. Dokk1 was an instant hit with the community – within 7 months of opening, the library had already welcomed more than 1 million visitors.
"Dokk1 is a covered urban square - an undulating landscape that facilitates learning, knowledge sharing, innovation and a sense of community,” says Senior Partner Kim Holst Jensen, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. “Our goal has been to create a stimulating and dynamic environment at this unique location that fosters valuable and meaningful relationships between people; a cultural centre that everyone can see themselves in. Architecture, with all its supporting disciplines has served to fulfil this greater ambition and we have been overwhelmed by how the people of Aarhus have embraced Dokk1 since opening day", says Senior Partner Kim Holst Jensen, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.”
The jury praised the library for reinvigorating an underused part of the city by creating a building the reacts appropriately to its context on each elevation:
"With its unique and central location in the city, the library has become a key element in the forward-looking strategy for creating more life by the harbour, which used to be a practically deserted area,” the jury commented in a statement. “It is evident that accessibility has been given high priority, not only in the positioning of the library, but also in the many outdoor areas and staircases that provide access to the building from all sides. This is supported by the shape and facade cladding of the building, which has no back, but has been given a primary facade on every side. In both the interior and the exterior, a classical construction element, the staircase, has been used as both a functional necessity and a place for meeting and resting."
Additionally, the jury found the building’s chosen material palette to be clean and durable while still feeling inviting:
"The jury also finds great architectural value in the simple and consistent choice of materials throughout the building, which adapts naturally to the harbour environment. Furthermore, the materials are of a high quality without being ostentatious, which makes the building stand out as a place of diversity with room for everybody."
News via Schmidt Hammer Lassen.