Stockholm, Sweden | 24,000 m2
Extension of the Stockholm public library
International competition 

Project Information

The library of today is a microcosm of the city, a showcase for new information, a place for thought, discussion and reflection, and most of all, a dynamic presence. The form of the extended new library will be easily understood by the visitor and will provide the flexibility required by the programme. It will act as a major new civic building for the inhabitants of Stockholm.

The expansion will provide a singular spatial experience, a striking physical presence, that will include ceremonial and community spaces that are seamlessly integrated with the original buildings without compromising their authenticity.

The proposal is based on three points:

  • The annexes designed by Asplund in his original plan of 1928 remain. The fourth annex that was never built is added as a pivotal point in the scheme, where the original rotunda and the annexes meet. The existing annexes are stripped of their cladding and remain as gridded skeletal frames, enveloped and visible within the fluid forms of the new building fabric.
  • The central axis of the entrance to the original Asplund rotunda is extended and expressed via a high level bridge, acting as a backbone to connect old and new. This is the distribution route, connecting all the working elements of the library. Set on an incline on two levels, books are retrieved and returned to the stacks on conveyors that are visible along the full length. A travelator situated below, provides a high level pedestrian link. The continuous flow of knowledge and its distribution is physically represented in the form of the new building and the visible movement of books, manuscripts and periodicals. The original Asplund rotunda is retained as a monumental temple to the book.
  • The relationship of the existing building to the adjacent landscape is an important part of Asplund’s original concept. Here it is reinforced by changes to the topography: extending through the building, deforming the existing grid and giving a new form to the landscape. It reinterprets the idea of the traditional figure ground, where landscape and built form are distinct elements. Here, architecture and landscape become one.

The form of the building is distinctive. Sweeping planes burst through to the street, providing an animated backdrop to the platonic form of the existing rotunda. Each twisting form is clad in its own material, sheets of Corten steel, concrete and planted lawns. These forms are also expressed internally, so that entering the building, the visitor also experiences the dynamic forms that wrap the skeletal structure. Public spaces are bathed in natural light that washes the surfaces. Scattered transparent slits allow momentary views of the sky and glimpses of the sun. Roofs, walls and floors are one, visible internally and externally through extensive areas of glazing. Each sweeping curve leads to a major facility within the library or out into the landscape.

The spatial requirements of the new library are accommodated in the original Asplund library, through the old annexes and in the new landscaped envelope, providing an approximate 24,000 m² (MUA) of space. Of this, 5,000 m² is located in the existing Asplund library, and the remainder is distributed through other areas of the new building.

Set on the hill above the new library, the observatory retains its prominence, and the flowing landscaped forms provide a dynamic setting for an important cultural monument.

Name: Topos-Graphia
Architects: Matteo Cainer Architects
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Client: Municipality of Stockholm
Programme: Extension of the Stockholm public library
Project Size: Project 24,000 m2
MCA Design: Matteo Cainer

Stockholm, Sweden | 24,000 m2
Extension of the Stockholm public library
International competition