Stovner Library

A Thread of Imagination

Do you remember when you learned to read? Perhaps not. Still, we’re connected by stories, conversations and imagination beyond memory. This “third space” library embraces this thought in creating a fantastical urban living room to be enjoyed across generations.

Stovner Library is located within Stovner Mall, a shopping centre in Oslo that lies on the threshold between city and forest. The mall lends itself as a centrepoint to the neighborhood. The initial spark fueling the project, was the possibility to add a new dimension for socialisation, meeting, learning and entertainment to this proximal location.

Hereby, the stage was set for developing Stovner Library for Deichman, a co-creation between Aat Vos (design concept and direction) and Artisan Tech, Damian Williams (production design and development), in collaboration with Veidekke Entreprenør AS (main contractor)—forming a group of world-class thinkers, imagineers, designers, and craftsmen. With Aat Vos directing the overarching concept of the space, Artisan focused on the interior design and development of every detail within to create a space that enhances imagination and social engagement.

Initial site research revealed certain peak hours consisting of different age groups. In the morning, grandparents, grandchildren and young parents with their little ones would inhabit the space, while children came flooding through after school, and in the evening the visitors were primarily adults.

“With literally generations represented, how do you create an inclusive space that caters to all their needs?”—Aat Vos

Clearly, a traditional library programme was out of the question with such a wide demographic already in place. Instead of dividing the space into areas for different types of groups, the decision was made to appeal to all ages. The idea of treating the library as a park was introduced—a space where people can relax, play, read, talk or eat together—a place where memories are created and a certain sense of freedom is evoked through the atmosphere.

With Aat’s open-plan concept in place, and the idea for creating a flexible and versatile space, Artisan set out to design the atmosphere, objects, and furnishings that allow you to rearrange the space in any desired constellation. Perhaps you simply want to read by yourself in a book cave, or how about curling up in a giant bird’s nest to read an adventure to your grandchild. You may also sit and work at the communal table, or talk to other visitors over a coffee. The soothing contrasts between lavish greens, refreshing blues and calm, dark, earthly tones create a sprawling sense of wonder and life as you explore the greenhouse enveloped in plants and books of all kinds.

Just like its visitors representing many different generations, many materials are reclaimed or recycled, such as the massive elm tree trunks from Tøyen Park in Oslo, or late 19th century cast-iron window frames from a Norwegian factory, while laser cut metal brackets for all the bookshelves have been inspired by Victorian engineering. The result is an exiting composition of vernacular and contemporary sensibilites that form a fresh take on libraries as we’ve know them, until now.

Project Information