Urban transformation - Library in Herning

The new main library is a mental oasis which appeals to all ages.

Troldtekt, Herning Library
Photo: Thomas Mølvig, arkitekt

Situated on the outskirts of town, Herning’s old library had a pretty low profile. After 40 years, the building was also in need of refurbishment. It therefore made sense to shift all the library’s activities into the town centre, while at the same time re-thinking its functions.

Instead of building new, the town council commissioned a team of creative architects to transform a run-down commercial property on the main pedestrian shopping street into a visionary cultural centre. Consequently, the original building was stripped down completely, so that only the supporting concrete structures and decking remained. At the same time, several large square openings were created between the ground floor and the basement to let in more light and add volume to the rooms.

The result is a very successful library and meeting venue, which has been extremely popular from day one. Today, the building has been transformed. The façades have been opened up towards the surroundings through the use of large window sections, and together with horizontal bands made from rust-red Corten steel, they give the building a strong visual identity. In front of the entrance façade, a small square has been created, which is often used for markets and other activities.

Raw construction – refined interior

The building has four floors in all, which are beautifully linked by a circular staircase with an elegant wood finish. The atmosphere in the library is created by the informal interior and the solidity of the building. There are no formal service desks, and there is a relaxed air so people do not feel that they have to talk in muted tones. The street-level ground floor is like a public urban space, where anything can happen, and where everyone should feel welcome. However, this has called for careful acoustic regulation, which has been solved by partially cladding the ceilings with fine-structure Troldtekt panels which harmonise well with the other materials.

Thanks to a large skylight, there is plenty of daylight in the middle of the building, which creates a sort of centre. A wide ‘sitting stairway’ has been established where visitors can sit and read, and which also leads down to Dybet – The Deep – where 90 per cent of the library’s collections and materials are kept, while the first floor has a number of flexible rooms of varying sizes which can be used for meetings, studies and talks. The top floor houses the administration, boasting spectacular views of the town.