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Urban Mediaspace
Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Importance of the building in the territory and in the city
schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, DenmarkWhen Dokk1 opens its doors to the public on Saturday, 20 June, it will be the largest public library in the Nordic countries, representing a new generation of modern, hybrid libraries. The 30,000 square metre building is part of the Urban Mediaspace project, which is transforming the harbour front of Aarhus. The project houses the new library, a citizen service centre, automatic parking for 1,000 cars and new harbour-side public squares. With a budget of over € 280 million, it is the largest construction project by the Municipality of Aarhus in the city’s history.

In 2009, schmidt hammer lassen architects won the competition to design the new Urban Mediaspace project as lead architect in collaboration with Kristine Jensens Landscaping and engineering company Alectia
Relationship with the location
schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, Denmark
schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, Denmark Urban Mediaspace is Scandinavia’s largest public library and represents a new generation of modern hybrid libraries and thus the building contains multiple potentials. The building is situated at the mouth of the Aarhus River in one of the most prominent sites of the city centre of Aarhus.

Urban Mediaspace is part of the ambitious district plan to revitalise the former industrial cargo docks on the harbour front by connecting the area both visually and physically to the historic centre of the city.

schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, DenmarkThe leading idea is a covered urban space. A large heptagonal slice hovers above a glazed prism, which is resting on a square of ice flake-shaped stairs fanning out to the edge of the sea. The ice flakes create wide plateaus and accommodate recreational activities and outdoor events.

The heptagon contain the media house administration and offices for rent. The glass building below is transparent and allows passers-by visual access to the activities in the building while the users have a 360 degree panoramic view from the inside. The library contains several divisions in staggered levels that cover literature and media areas, exhibitions, children’s theatre, interactive activities, public events, cafés and restaurants and hence, they form an eventful promenade through the building.

Below ground the large parking area is available to the whole city. Part of the traffic along the waterfront run beneath the building. To boost public transportation the new tram has a stop here.
A covered urban space
schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, DenmarkThe principal idea behind Dokk1 is a transparent covered urban space. Kim Holst Jensen, Senior Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects, explains: “Dokk1 is not simply a building. It is a place for exchanging knowledge and opportunities and a multicultural meeting point that will change people’s perception of the entire city. Dokk1 enhances this special setting with an architecture that creates an exceptional visual connection to the city – both from inside the building and out. Through this, we form an icon for the knowledge society, an icon that supports and stimulates creative collaboration."

schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, DenmarkDokk1 is designed as a polygonal slice that hovers above a glazed building resting on a podium with large sculptural stairs. The stairs fan out to street level and the new harbour promenade surrounding the building. The glass building is designed as an open urban space with 360-degree views of the water, harbour, forest and city. The building has no clear front or back, which is emphasised by the multi-edged top slice that creates the impression of rotation and movement. The facade is made of expanded metal, the scale of the city and harbour is reflected in the design, which twists, breaks and turns. The concept of the façade design is an interaction with the height of the surrounding build-ings and the scale of the port with reference to large elements, such as cranes and ships.
Democratic, open and diverse
schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, DenmarkThe polygonal top floor contains the municipal administration offices along with rental offices. The two open levels of the library are connected by the media ramp, which con-sists of five platforms, each dedicated to an activity: exhibitions, gaming, interactive workshops, reading and events. Combined with the literature and media sections, the media ramp offers a meandering path of activity through the building leading up to the children’s area on the top floor.

schmidt hammer lassen, DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Århus, Denmark"Inside, the open layout creates visual connections between the various functions, and invites the visitor to be inspired by the vast amount of information that inevitably meets them. Openness encourages social interaction and the exchange of information. Dokk1 will become a vibrant space for people of all generations, interests and cultures. Our concept, with interweaving activities and functions, supports this synergy," concludes Kim Holst Jensen, Senior Partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects.

The development of Dokk1 has in many ways influenced how schmidt hammer lassen designs libraries around the world. One example is in the handling of the public consultation, from which we have learnt large amounts. For Dokk1, this process directly influenced the size of the multi-hall and the design of information in the reception area.

schmidt hammer lassen architects has extensive experience of designing libraries. The most renowned of these being the extension to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Den-mark, and the RIBA award-winning University of Aberdeen New Library in Scotland. Last year, two Canadian libraries opened in Halifax and Edmonton and in 2018 a new central library in Christchurch, New Zealand, will open. Earlier this year, Dokk1 was awarded a commendation in the category "Cultural Regeneration" at the 2015 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards.
DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Aarhus, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Alectia, Kristine Jensens

Denmark [Danmark]
Aarhus [Århus]
Aarhus [Århus]
Hack Kampmanns Plads 2 [Europaplads]
Buildings for cultural activities
Libraries and media libraries
Buildings for cultural activities
Art galleries and exhibition areas
Education buildings
Children's museums and pedagogical spaces
Buildings for offices and professional practises
Commercial buildings
Bars, cafeterias
Transport buildings and structures
Garages, car parking, etc.
2009     project winner of limited competiton
2011 - 2015
Public Library of the Year Award
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Jury comments

DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Aarhus, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Alectia, Kristine Jensens"With its unique and central location in the city, the library has become a key element in the forward- looking strategy for creating more life by the harbour, which used to be a practically deserted area. It is evident that accessibility has been given high priority, not only in the positioning of the library, but also in the many outdoor areas and staircases that provide access to the building from all sides. This is supported by the shape and facade cladding of the building, which has no back, but has been given a primary facade on every side. In both the interior and the exterior, a classical construction element, the staircase, has been used as both a functional necessity and a place for meeting and resting."

DOKK1, Urban Mediaspace, Aarhus, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Alectia, Kristine Jensens"The jury also finds great architectural value in the simple and consistent choice of materials throughout the building, which adapts naturally to the harbour environment. Furthermore, the materials are of a high quality without being ostentatious, which makes the building stand out as a place of diversity with room for everybody."
Best Collaboration Award
Creative City Challenge (European Union)

schmidt hammer lassen Urban Mediaspace Aarhusschmidt 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.”

schmidt hammer lassen Urban Mediaspace AarhusAssociate 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.

”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.
Oliver Lowenstein, "The boys done good", Blueprint 342, september/october 2015, pp. 128-144
"Give access" in schmidt hammer lassen architects (ed.), Give more, Aedes, Berlin 2012, pp. 36-43
Aarhus Municipality
€ 280,000,000 + VAT
sq.m. 35,600
Alectia Consulting Engineers
Arkitekt Kristine Jensens Tegnestue
schmidt hammer lassen architects
Gestione del progetto
schmidt hammer lassen architects
Property management
Rambøll Denmark
Bahn arkitekter

Bosch & Fjord Interior Design & Art
The Danish School of Librarians by Dr. art Henrik Jochumsen and Dr. art Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen
Photos © Adam Mørk
Drawings © schmidt hammer lassen architects
Texts edited by schmidt hammer lassen architects
Courtesy of schmidt hammer lassen architects, DOKK1

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Urban Mediaspace Aarhus

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