Biblo Tøyen

An Extraordinary Resonance

If you could go back in time, how would you design a library for yourself as a child? Biblo Tøyen was designed to enrich the library experience for children by inviting play, interaction and discovery fueled by an imaginative interior, but driven by foundational princinples of psychology. It was developed for children aged 10 to 15 years as an a-typical culture house, that would speak to the audience through, shape, colour, light, texture—a highly tactile experience derived from Deichman’s motto: Hold Deg Våken! (Keep yourself awake!). As simple as that sounds, it is difficult to anticipate how bright, young minds will engage with such a space. However, Biblo Tøyen has become one of the most visited public spaces in Oslo. Not only by children, but also adults—an extraordinary resosance with the audience has settled in.

Biblo Tøyen was developed for Deichman and Reinert Mithassel, and during its conception, we were in dialogue with children and youth about the things they might want to see in a library. In doing our best to walk in the shoes of a young mind, we must also acknologedge the constant shifts of interests in them as they are constantly exploring new paths for themselves.

To keep a grounded connection with reality, the library was designed with a broad set of skills as a co-creation between Aat Vos (design concept and direction) and Artisan Tech, Damian Williams (production design and development), in close collaboration with an architectural psychologist, skilled set-builders, and craftsmen.

Immersion and Daydreaming

Unexpected props and visuals make this library come alive. Wavy mirror walls, a truck as a tea booth and wheel barrels as chairs are just some of the creative details. Single gondolas from ski lifts are also floating around in this library, inviting the kids to hop in and daydream. Murals on the walls allude to the feeling of theater or a theme park, with an opportunity to nestle into comfortable pillows in a submarine-like space filled with blue light, or to flip through pages while seated in a regal barber chair.

Filled with a sense of weightlessness, the space features many floating elements, including bookshelves, that create an immersive atmosphere with a keen attention to detail. This project was a truly unique endeavor that caters to an extremely important target audience. The result is probably the most fascinating library you will find. Anywhere.

Project Information

  • Client: Deichman, Reinert Mithassel
  • Location: Tøyen, Oslo
  • Status: Completed, 2015
  • Concept and Creative Director: Aat Vos
  • Design and Development: Damian Williams (Artisan Tech)
  • Photography and Video: Marco Heyda, Jan Willem van Bruggen