Kengo Kuma & Associates, Mad Arkitekter and Buro Happold Engineering have won a competition to design the Ibsen Library, a new cultural hub in Skien, Norway, the birthplace of the world-renowned playwright Henrik Ibsen. Designed to make Ibsen’s legacy of work accessible to everyone, the Ibsen Library will emphasize an inclusive and transparent design that wraps around an existing park. The new library will also be integrated with the existing Ibsen House as well as residents’ services, a tourist information center and a National Ibsen Centre.

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The proposed Ibsen Library will be located in the city’s Cultural Quarter at a prominent intersection of important public and cultural institutions such as the School of Culture and Skien’s new sports hall. To take advantage of the prime location, the designers have crafted a building with multiple entrances from all directions at every level. One of the most important connections will be the library’s relationship with the adjacent park, which is currently rather hidden but will be exposed to the city through the new design.

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The Ibsen library features a curvilinear footprint that not only gives the building its distinctive and organic appearance but is also informed by the existing trees. Large expanses of glazing line the curvilinear facade facing the park to blur the boundaries between indoors and out, while timber will be used extensively in construction to create “harmony” with the trees. Timber shingles, typically used in traditional Norwegian buildings, will be used on the roof to mimic leaves.

“Ibsen Library would act as the new Cultural Hub that houses activities of people in daily life and to be the new destination for the visitors,” the architects explained. “Our intent is to reflect the nature of the Silver Vein in Ibsen’s writing, implemented in the urban fabric for a continuous journey through the cityscape to the library with moments of unexpected encounters.”

+ Kengo Kuma & Associates

Images by Kengo Kuma & Associates and