Stovner library Oslo

07 Dec 2017

The reason you go to a library is to enjoy some quiet time and read a book in a corner by yourself…or is it? Not necessarily – this third space is an exceptionally social one, and will be enjoyed for generations, by all generations.

Alterations for an established Audience

Through on-site research we found that 90% of all visitors either went to the library with a friend, to meet up, or visit others. Social engagement was the main reason for people going to the library. Looking at a typical day, we noticed certain peak hours with different patrons. As schools let out, the space was flooded with children, whereas towards the evening adults dominated. Lastly, the morning hours belonged to grandparents and their grandchildren, or young moms and dads with their little ones. With literally all generations represented, how do you create an inclusive space that caters to all their needs? Acknowledging these different existing target demographics, clearly a traditional approach was not possible.

With literally all generations represented, how do you create an inclusive space that caters to all their needs?

Aat Vos

Creative Guide

Dividing the library into sections for kids and adults would have one group spilling into the section of the other one at various times of the day. Instead of discriminating by age and having that determine the atmosphere of the interior, a more neutral option was chosen to appeal to all ages. The main source of inspiration was a park: accessible to everybody and offering the freedom to relax, play, read a newspaper or have a family barbecue, a park embodies the balance of neutrality and flexibility.

Not yours, but ours

The Stovner library is located in the shopping mall Stovner Center which has a strong social function in the neighborhood. The shopping mall is situated on the fringe of the city of Oslo, where forest meets civilization. The library adds new dimensions for meeting, learning and entertainment while alluding to the center’s proximity to the forest. Green accents sprout up and flow throughout the interior; a choice rooted in color psychology as green lies in the heart of the color spectrum, and encourages calmness. The eye-catching interior in Oslo’s new urban living room contrasts calming earthy tones, plants and warm wooden elements with refreshing blues and glass walls, a look based on greenhouses. World-class set designers produced extraordinary props for these green indoors, including bird nests big enough for people to gather in. Like its visitors of many different ages, the library boasts an exciting mix of old and new. Many materials are reclaimed or recycled, such as elm tree trunks from Oslo’s own Tøyen Park, or cast-iron window frames from a Norwegian factory from roughly the late 1800s. The bookshelves are a triple medley of materials: a combination of concrete, wooden planks in their original shape (with only the bark stripped away), and laser cut metal brackets, a homage to Victorian engineering.

The main area is intentionally left open to be bustling with people interacting. Residents can create memories here and have meaningful experiences, contributing to a feeling of local identity and social connectedness. While many possibilities for escaping and education are available, the entire feel of the library remains vast, open and inviting. The interior is versatile and flexible: offering a maker space and furniture on wheels that encourages users to rearrange it over and over again in any desired constellation, serving multiple purposes. Whether you want to read alone on a chair in a book cave, strike up conversation with other visitors at a conference table, or cozy up in a bird nest with your (grand)child and their favorite story, Deichmanske bibliotek Stovner caters to all these social needs. This library is an inclusive space that revitalizes the local community by bringing together people from all walks of life, of all ages, at any given time.

Project credits:

Deichman Stovner Library is a co-creation of Aat Vos (design concept, strategy, creative direction – aatvos.com) and Artisan Tech – Damian Williams & team – (production & development), in collaboration with Veideke Entreprenør AS (Distrikt Oslo, main contractor – veideke.no/oslo), and Lysteknikk El. Entreprenør AS (electrician – lysteknikk.no). Photography and video by Marco Heyda (heyda.nl)

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