The Most Beautiful Libraries in Book-Loving Scandinavia

Dokk1 | Courtesy of Dokk1
Dokk1 | Courtesy of Dokk1
Photo of Danai Christopoulou
7 November 2017

Jorge Luis Borges believed paradise to be a kind of library. Well, Jorge Luis Borges would have been very happy in Scandinavia, the home of several such paradises, all of them immaculately designed. Below, we’ve gathered the most impressive libraries in the Nordic countries for you to rest your eyes on and perhaps plan your next bookworm escapade.

Vennesla library, Norway

Created by Norwegian architects Helen & Hard, this gem of a library in Vennesla municipality doubles as a cultural centre where live events take place. The geometrical building incorporates high-standard energy-saving solutions while at the same time maintaining an almost organic, cozy feel, with private booths where you can sit and lose yourself in your favorite book.

Vennesla Library entrance | © Erieta Attali, Courtesy of Helen & Hard
Vennesla Library | © Erieta Attali, Courtesy of Helen & Hard
Vennesla Library interior | © Erieta Attali, Courtesy of Helen & Hard

Stockholm State Library, Sweden

If Westeros has the Citadel, Sweden has Stockholm’s State Library, and they’re both equally round and breathtaking. Designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, who also designed the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Woodland Cemetery, this library’s impressive round main hall is home to books in every Nordic language. Its white, textured roof was designed to look like clouds.

Stockholm State Library exterior | © Regionbibliotek Stockholm / Flickr
Stockholm State Library interior | © chibicode / Flickr

Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark

Talk about both quality and quantity: not only was this polygonal building next to the river in Aarhus awarded the prize for best public library of 2016, it is also the largest library in Scandinavia at 323,000 square feet (30,008 square meters). Design gems await you at every step, from the intricate installation in the parking lot to the elaborate playground and the many reading spaces.

Dokk1 view from the harbour | Courtesy of SHL Architects
Playground at Dokk1 | Courtesy of SHL Architects
Installation at Dokk1 parking lot | Courtesy of SHL Architects

Stormen Public Library, Bodø, Norway

Bodø aims to be a European Capital of Culture in 2024, and their new library and cultural center certainly goes a long way towards achieving that goal. The white concrete building (that includes a three-auditorium concert hall, in addition to a huge amount of dedicated reading space) sits on the plot of a former bus station, with a row of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city’s harbor.

Stormen library | Courtesy of Stormen Library
Stormen library interior | Courtesy of Stormen library

Uppsala University Library, Sweden

Probably the entry with the most historical gravitas in this list (Uppsala University first opened its doors in 1620), the Uppsala University Library consists of 11 buildings, with the Carolina Rediviva one being the most famous.

Uppsala University Library | Courtesy of Uppsala University Library

Helsinki Central Library, Finland

Designed by ALA Architects, Helsinki’s new Central Library is currently being built, and is set to open in 2018. Touted as the city’s new “living room,” the library will include a 3D printer, a movie theater, and a music studio.

Construction of Helsinki Public Library | Courtesy of ALA Architects
Ground floor design of Helsinki Public Library | Courtesy of ALA Architects
Outdoor view of Helsinki Public Library | Courtesy of ALA Architects

Royal Library (The Black Diamond), Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Library was originally built in 1648, but it was renovated in 1999, and its current reincarnation is locally known as “The Black Diamond,” thanks to its shiny black metal and clear-glass design. Inside, you’ll find philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s original manuscripts, among countless other literary treasures.

The Black Diamond of Copenhagen, exterior | © Sam Litvin / Flickr
The Black Diamond, interior | © Maria Eklind / Flickr
The Black Diamond, exterior view | © Gavin Smith / Flickr

The New Deichman Library, Oslo, Norway

A library that glows in the dark, and has changing colors based on the activities and events that are taking place inside? Sounds like a magical place – and in 2018, it will be a reality. The new main branch of Oslo’s public library, Deichman, is under construction in Bjørvika (another example of Oslo’s booming architecture scene) and, apart from books, it will also include a movie theater, media workshops, gaming zones, lounges, and a restaurant.

The New Deichman Main Library | Courtesy of Atelier Oslo
Deichman Library design exterior | Courtesy of Atelier Oslo

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