Stockholm Library

Asplund’s Stockholm Library is of a particular, classical or at least Platonic geometry that brings emphasis to the slight (but never the less significant) shift in alignment of this building with the city.

This difference of line is germane to establishing the axial relation between the dome of the library and the observatory sited on top of the original ridge that divided the city.

Conceptually then this building sits as spatially distinct from the city, the architectural moment of the project is made manifest between two spatial possibilities: the externalizing spatial expanse of the heavens experienced through the observatory (a kind of Unus Mundus or mythological space where heaven touches earth) on the one hand, and the internalizing spatial expanse of human thought textualized in the pages of the artifacts held under the constructed heaven of the library dome on the other. 

The trajectory of the observatory is upward, eyes drawn to the heavens, and externalizing. The trajectory of the library is also upward, eyes drawn to the space of the dome, interior and internalizing in the sense that the text opens up worlds within the subject.

This project then, begins in this spatial and conceptual couplet: reader and text - observer and heavens. The construction of the proposed extension must be understood therefore as the construction or constructing of an extended idea as much as it is a matter of adding building material or programme.

If architecture is to be understood as spatial and relational then this proposal draws relations between three spatial figures – the textual inner space of Asplund’s dome, the cosmic externalizing gaze of the observatory telescope, and the sublime space of the contemporary underground – a triptych that extends Asplund’s library as both spatial idea and material object.

This is a temporal response in the sense that Asplund’s library, constructed in the previous millennium, is re-grounded in its current, cosmopolitan city. By establishing a conceptual relationship between three architectural figures, the original artifact is re-valued, reinstated, and re-placed without significant material alteration.

Inherited geometry;
The primary elements and subtle compositional shifts in Asplund’s

Library influence the formative order and aesthetic of this proposal.

Extending place;
The axial alignment from the Observatory through Asplund’s Library manifests a trajectory to a celestial order, beyond the immediate place. The Stockholm

Library has a similar larger-context connection from the Observatory plateau; a connection to the distant natural landscape at Haga park beyond the city, itself part of the Stockholmsasen (Stockholm Ridge) – once a dominant esker through the Stockholm landscape.

The new roof conceptually “completes” the former ridge through Stockholm.

Harald Sohlberg;
Presents us with a sublime view of heavenly, aspirational light washing snow-capped mountains. In contrast, the bleak foreground evokes the Nordic melancholy of a Scandinavian winter.

The painting is indeterminate however, since the melancholy that it inspires reminds us of the presence of an “other” internal world, our own inner world, the thoughtful world of the subjective viewer. This scene then marks out a ground of indeterminacy between our inner and outer worlds.

We propose a ravine, a deep cut, a telluric space that looks down into the ground, uncovering an underworld of the city, a slot cut in the side of the train tunnel so traveler and reader meet eye to eye in this most sublime space of the contemporary terror threatened city – the underground.

Commuters in this city now have a glimpse to the inner space of this architectural triptych: sublime underground, the textual space of the reader and the cosmic space of the viewer. power than the sum of it’s parts.

Inverting program;
The Depository and Media Management facilities are accommodated in a single, new element over the existing Public Library (Asplund’s Library and Annexes) with direct access from remodeled existing lifts. This efficiently solves the vertical and horizontal circulation of book storage and transport in a refurbishment of existing premises without significant disruption. Further, the existing, highly valued buildings are available for maximum public use, free of onerous storage and services.

Contemporary arrival;
Asplund’s Library entry is essential in the ideational and spatial experience – a single ascent through darkness to the inner light of the drum. Stockholm Library needs a complimentary entry sequence, in terms of both experience and idea. To engage with the contemporary city, the Library must open itself to the city. Multiple arrival opportunities – from park, train station, shopping centre or street - are gathered within a vibrant subterranean space which is also highly visible from the passing train and thus “announced” and anticipated within the arger railway system throughout the ity. Movement in Asplund’s Library is in and up. The new movement is in and down inviting exploration of Stockholm’s mystical underworld.

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