Gothenburg University Library by Cobe Exterior View

© Courtesy of Cobe Architects

The Danish architecture firm Cobe has won the prestigious international competition for a new university library in the heart of Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg. In addition to providing a new and attractive setting for knowledge-sharing and research in the Swedish university city, the building will house the existing libraries for the humanities, the arts, music, drama, and the university archives and digital services.

Gothenburg University Library Technical Information

With the library’s placement at the top of the hill, we aim to create a distinctive beacon of knowledge. The book serves as the inspiration and point of departure for the design – the building volume, its colors and materials all point to a book being opened. Regardless of which direction you approach it from, you are invited in.

– Dan Stubbergaard

Gothenburg University Library Photographs

Gothenburg University Library by Cobe Model

© Courtesy of Cobe Architects

Gothenburg University Library by Cobe Interior view

© Courtesy of Cobe Architects

Gothenburg University Library by Cobe Window detail

© Courtesy of Cobe Architects

Gothenburg University Library by Cobe stairs

© Courtesy of Cobe Architects

With the book as inspiration 

Cobe’s winning project uses the book as the design’s source of inspiration and point of departure. Both the lightness and the gravity of a book are reflected in the subtle curvature of the building’s volume and the vertical lines of its facade – much like the pages of a book just being opened. The volume rests on an open and transparent ground floor with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. The ambition is to allow the building to blend in with the surrounding park, invite both new and current users inside, and stand out as a beacon of knowledge at the top of the university area of Näckrosen.

The integration of the building and park was a key consideration from the outset, and we have deliberately preserved as much of the existing park landscape as possible. In doing so, we have created an open connection between the city, the university, and the library’s users. We look forward to working with Akademiska Hus and the University of Gothenburg to further develop our competition proposal.

– Dan Stubbergaard

Wood as the primary material 

The library will contain quiet zones for focused work as well as active areas and gathering spaces that can be used for events, exhibitions, meetings, and lectures – a distinction that is also reflected in the choice of materials. The active, open ground floor, paved in granite, features a visible concrete structure, which allows for large and open spaces, while the eight upper floors, which house the library itself, are constructed of wood. In addition to being an exceptionally sustainable and durable material that reduces the building’s CO2 footprint, wood also provides a pleasant indoor environment with a stress-mitigating acoustic profile. The building’s facade will consist of light-colored, vertical elements that act as a sunscreen.

Automated book depository in the heart of the building 

With the library, the University of Gothenburg gains additional meeting facilities, better research environments, and an innovative setting for housing the university’s collection. At the library’s core, Sweden’s first fully automated book depository stores and retrieves books and other media efficiently and compactly. The public stairs of the building are situated around the depository, placing books and the knowledge contained within them at the very core of the experience of the building. Study areas and offices are located toward the facade, ensuring optimal daylight conditions and spectacular views of the park and the city.

Cobe’s fourth project in Gothenburg

The construction of the university library is scheduled to begin in 2025, with completion in 2028. It is Cobe’s fourth project to be realized in Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg. Last year, the architecture firm announced its design center for the major Chinese automaker Geely, which will be completed in 2022. Earlier this year, Cobe announced that the firm had won the competition for the 100-meter tall Global Business Gate high-rise, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025. Both buildings are situated on Gothenburg’s central harbor front. Cobe is also currently executing design work on the Gothenburg Botanical Garden, set for completion in 2026.

Gothenburg University Library Image Gallery

About Cobe

Cobe is an architectural firm founded in 2006 by architect Dan Stubbergaard. The firm aims to create surroundings that actively contribute to extraordinary everyday living. Among the firm’s principal projects are The Silo in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn (North Harbour) district, the urban space Karen Blixens Plads at the University of Copenhagen, and HALFTIME, the global headquarters for Adidas, in Germany.

Works from Cobe

  1. Collaborators: Buro Happold