Aarhus Library: Urban Mediaspace

Aarhus Public Library, Urban Mediaspace Building, Project, News, Design, Property

Aarhus Library Building

Jutland Architecture, Denmark – design by SHL Architects

20 Sep 2012

Urban Mediaspace Aarhus

Best Collaboration Award for schmidt hammer lassen architects and the City of Aarhus

Aarhus Library
image from architect

schmidt hammer lassen architects and the City of Aarhus have been selected to receive a Best Collaboration Award 2012 for their extensive cooperation in creating the largest public library in Scandinavia : Urban Mediaspace. The Best Collaboration Award, an EU-initiative, rewards the best examples of collaboration between partners from the creative industries sector and local governments in the North Sea Region of the European Union.

The jury has selected the team behind the Urban Mediaspace project because of the broad and intensive collaboration process between the municipality, the architects, the citizens and future users. According to the jury report, “the intensive implication of citizens will be positive for the further development of the library as a public space for information and exchange of ideas.”

Urban Mediaspace Aarhus
image from architect

Associate Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects Trine Berthold explains: “The users assumed ownership of the building and their passionate participation has resulted in a library, which truly has the value of a ‘house of the citizens’. There were constructional facts that influenced the design, but the users’ ardent dream about the library’s future use and organization has definitely had an impact on the result. Summing up, we now have a building, which already before the inauguration has become a positive story in the conscience of many people.”

The philosophy behind the user involvement is that an active library will only come to life by actively involving the people who are going to use it. Therefore, citizens of Aarhus and the future staff of Urban Mediaspace have been engaged in the design process. Concurrent with user-group and citizen meetings information, images and movies about the future library were issued on the Urban Mediaspace website, which also hosts online dialogue, comments and opinions from citizens.

Aarhus Public Library
image from architect

”One of the most important elements of the new Urban Mediaspace is to rethink the library as a public meeting place in the city. Urban Mediaspace represents a new generation of modern hybrid libraries with a long list of diverse potentials for use,” explains Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects Mr Kim Holst Jensen.

The City’s Project Manager of Urban Mediaspace Aarhus, Marie Østergård elaborates: “Urban Mediaspace will be an outstanding space for civic learning, experience and knowledge based activities. The ambitions are to create a democratic space that stimulates network, informal learning and personal growth; combine interactivity, media, people and space; facilitate and develop new formats for citizens’ involvement and create partnerships to ensure co-creation of activities.”

Five European teams have won a Best Collaboration Award 2012. The overall winner among the five will be announced at an Award Ceremony in Groeningen, the Netherlands on 20th of September 2012.

Aarhus Library Interior
image from architect

Urban Mediaspace is expected to be finished in 2014. Besides the Urban Mediaspace library in Denmark, schmidt hammer lassen architects is currently working on two other library projects: one in Halifax and one in Edmonton, both in Canada. Like Urban Mediaspace, the Halifax Library project has taken shape after extensive sessions of user-group involvement.

5 Mar 2009

Aarhus Library Building

The architects behind Aberdeen University Library and Sheffield’s Learning Centre to design largest public library in Scandinavia

Awarding-winning practice schmidt hammer lassen architects (SHL Architects) has won an international competition to design “Urban Mediaspace“, the largest public library in Scandinavia. The € 228 million scheme, located in Aarhus, Denmark, will become a new visual and cultural focal point for the city whilst pioneering the next generation of library design.

Aarhus Library Urban Mediaspace Aarhus Aarhus Library Design Aarhus Library Interior
images from architect

SHL Architects was announced the winner on Tuesday (4th March) after an extensive consultation process with the Municipality of Aarhus; the other practices involved in the competition were a partnership between the Dutch firm Mecanoo and GPP Architects from Denmark and A-Team – a collaboration between two Danish companies, AART and Arkitema.

SHL Architects’ innovative, 30.000 m2 scheme reassesses traditional concepts of library design. Instead of a building focused around books, “Urban Mediaspace” is a hub of social interaction, incorporating interior and exterior recreational spaces for studying, socialising, and relaxing. The building will also have the capacity to host multi-media and cultural events.

“Urban Mediaspace” is part of a wider plan to regenerate the old cargo docks on the harbour front, connecting it to the old city centre. The competition jury described SHL Architects’ design as “a beautiful and highly-functional city harbour space, reflecting a deep understanding of the challenges faced when designing a public library. The new areas will offer flexible and exciting spaces with many possibilities for socialising and contemplation”.

The building’s distinctive heptagonal-shape design will be a landmark in Aarhus. The library’s offices will have impressive panoramic views over the harbour with steps leading out on to the waterfront. SHL Architects’ design connects the library to the Aarhus River by creating an external recreational area that will run along the south side of the “Urban Mediaspace”. The building’s glazed façade will create light, well-ventilated interior spaces whilst also making the inside of the library visible to passersby, inviting the community inside.

SHL Architects has established itself as a leader in the design of libraries through their consistently innovative buildings that reflect the practice’s track record of delivering versatile and democratic designs. SHL Architects’ UK-based library projects include, Aberdeen University Library and the Library Learning Centre in Sheffield – a two and a half storey library complex which will provide exceptional facilities for teaching and learning.

Partner of SHL Architects Kim Holst Jensen said:
“We are delighted to have won such a prestigious and culturally important project. At SHL Architects we believe that library design is about more than just books. Libraries revolve around people and should provide flexible spaces for social interaction as well as studying. “Urban Mediaspace” further establishes the practice as leaders of this democratic, social kind of library design.”

Urban Mediaspace – Building Information

Area: 30.000 m2 above ground. 30.000 m2 subterranean parking
Height: 25 m
Construction sum: € 228 million
Competition year: 2008-2009
Competition type: Restricted, international
Project Partner: Kim Holst Jensen
Client: The Municipality of Aarhus and Realdania
Engineer: Alectia (DK)
Landscape Architect: Kristine Jensen (DK)
Quantity Surveyor: Capita Symonds (UK)
Other consultants: Artists Bosch & Fjord (DK),
Library Consultants from The Danish School of Librarians Dr. Art Henrik Jochumsen and Dr. Art Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen

Urban Mediaspace Aarhus images / information from schmidt hammer lassen architects 050309

Schmidt Hammer Lassen


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.




Architecture in Denmark

Jutland Architectural Projects

Aarhus Architecture Designs – chronological list

Aarhus Architecture Walking Tours

Another Aarhus building by schmidt hammer lassen architects
ARoS Aarhus
photo © Adrian Welch
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum

Libraries by schmidt hammer lassen architects
The Royal Library (DK)
Halmstad Library (SWE)
University of Aberdeen Library (UK)
Sheffield LearningCentre (UK)
Culture Island Middelfart (DK)
Växjö City Library (SWE)




Hoved Bibliotek – current Aarhus Library
Hoved Bibliotek Aarhus Aarhus Library Building
photos © Adrian Welch

Library Buildings

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Book

Aarhus Architecture – Selection

Moesgård Museum Århus
Moesgård Museum Building
image from architects

Aarhus Housing
Aarhus Housing
image from architect

Aarhus New University Hospital

Comments / photos for the Aarhus Library Architecture – Urban Mediaspace Denmark page welcome

Aarhus Library Building : page

Website: Aarhus