New indoor garden at the Royal Danish Library

The dust has finally settled after a three-year, 11 million kroner renovation of the Royal Danish Library in Aarhus.

[Translate to English:] Travlhed de sidste dage før indvielsen af de nu helt færdigrenoverede etager på Det Kgl. Bibliotek. Som det kan ses, er bøgerne farveordnede, hvilket fik en forsker til at skrive følgende på Twitter: "Den nye indendørs have på KB er utrolig fin. Men... farveordnede bøger på et seriøst forskningsbibliotek?" Vicedirektør Erik Hofmeister fortæller, at det er en beslutning, som er taget af bibliotekarerne, og at det drejer sig om kasserede bøger. Selv finder han det rigtig fint set fra en æstetisk synsvinkel. De kasserede bøger er placeret øverst på de intet mindre end 6,85 meter høje reoler. Mens den nederste del er reserveret bøger, som brugerne har bestilt, og disse står i nummerorden.

“We’ve been thinking, designing and renovating for three years. And it’s been noisy and messy. But we think it’s turned out well,” says Erik Hofmeister, deputy director of the Royal Danish Library.

He continues:

“We’ve attempted to create a sense of harmony by giving all of the renovated floors a similar aesthetic.” 

And the references to the revamp of the basement and ground floor, which was completed last year, are clear, for example in the use of high-quality materials such as oak, wool upholstery and brass detailing.    

But without a doubt, the centrepiece of the renovated first floor is the library garden, which is defined by a 52-meter sofa in pale leather which curves organically through the space. The sofa defines the contours of a huge raised bed planted with trees and groundcover plants. There’s also a round fountain, so visitors can think big – or small – thoughts to the sound of trickling water.    

Architects like to talk about drawing the outdoors inside. This is precisely the intention behind the library garden – to bring the green of the University Park indoors. The use of oak throughout the space also references the oak trees in the park. But nature is just one of the elements the space attempts to incorporate. Knowledge is another.    

“The knowledge represented by the ‘book tower’,” explains Hofmeister, looking up at the tower, which is visible on sunny days through the big skylights extending across the entire space. The skylights are supplemented by lots of downlights, because the natural light streaming through the glass is not strong enough for the plants in the library garden in the wintertime.    

Even though a lot of oak was used in the renovation, Hofmeister and his colleagues have stopped short of planting living oak trees in the indoor garden.

They chose olive trees instead, and Hofmeister is keeping a sharp eye on the withered leaves scattered on the backrest and seat of the pale leather sofa. However, the external horticultural company responsible for planting and caring for the library garden has assured him that the trees will stop dropping so many leaves when they adapt to their new environment.    

Less demanding plants such as baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) and flamingo flower (Anthurium) also grow in the garden.    

And ferns, which will completely surround the little round fountain when mature.    

Deputy Director Hofmeister on one of the six booth sofas with a view over the library garden. The top edge of a glass wall is just visible in the photo. The wall serves both as a noise barrier and  a physical barrier, as there’s a drop of over seven meters to the next floor down... 

The space is full of attractive details, such as these oak signs. Stilheden 2 (Reading Room 2) is a new reading room with space for 60 students. According to Hofmeister, adding more study spaces to the Royal Danish Library was not one of the goals of the renovation. There are 720 study spaces for students in the library.    

READ MORE: Now you can get a massage, play FIFA and go Zen at the State and University Library

The article was published 2018.03.01.