When Anna-Lena is not working as an intern for urban design she discovers Stockholm and presents buildings that caught her eyes. After having scouted a housing project – 79 Park by BIG – and different parks in Stockholm, she now focusses on two libraries in Stockholm, that couldn’t be more different: the Royal Library and the city library.
On the next stop on my tour of the city, I visited two important buildings in Stockholm, both are libraries but differ in use as well as in appearance. The Royal Library is Sweden’s national library and contains all print productions published in Sweden and is also a government agency. The city library contains a diverse offer of different media for the public.
When you approach the buildings, the first thing that stands out is the outdoor space. Both libraries occupy an important position in the urban space, and are located directly next to a park. The Royal Library is located directly in the Humlegården; the city library close to Vasaparken.
The City Library – Light and books
The famous Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund presented the design for the City Library in 1922 and it was completed in 1928. The tall cylinder, which stands out above the rectangular orange volume, gives the building a monumental appearance. Asplund was inspired by the central rotunda of Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s Rotonde de la Villette.
The enormous entrance portal leads up to the great hall. Standing in the central hall, visitors are surrounded by bookshelves on the walls. The light coming from above through the windows into the cylinder brightens the room.
The Royal Library – Inspired by Paris
The Swedish architect Gustaf Abraham Dahl designed the royal library almost fifty years earlier and it is still one of the largest libraries on earth. The largest difference with the city library is the main room of the National Library. It is oriented along its length and is structured by fine columns. Bookshelves cover the back wall and on the other long wall, windows are situated in a regular rhythm. In between are the workstations. It is not hard to guess that the architect was inspired by the National Library in Paris.
The library was extended with an underground section called KB Annexet was built in the late ’90s, designed with a sole skylight and three floors below ground level. This area was finally renovated and modernized in 2012 and invites you to read and study among colors and modern furnishings.