New Cultural Centre and Library in Karlshamn, Sweden / by schmidt hammer lassen architects

schmidt hammer lassen architects wins competition to design the New Cultural Centre and Library in Karlshamn, Sweden


The New Cultural Centre and Library in Karlshamn, Sweden, is designed to gather the city’s cultural functions under one roof. schmidt hammer lassen architects has just won an international competition to design this 5,000 square metre cultural centre. Karlshamn will get a sculptural and flexible building containing a library, an exhibition area, a cinema, a tourist office and a café. It will be the city’s new meeting place and will embrace diversity.

The building is situated on Östra Piren between the industrial harbour, the local folk high school, the city and the beautiful Swedish skerries. The facade and roof are designed to meet the scale and sight lines of the surroundings hereby creating a distinctive shape.
“Through a poetic interpretation of the surroundings we have created a meeting place, which will be a striking visual focal point that connects the city to the landscape and the water,” stated Ms Trine Berthold, associate partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects. She continued: “The meeting place is defined by a sculptural, folded roof made of wood that gathers activities and visitors in the building under one roof – which is both the motto and the main concept of our design.”


The main access to the Cultural Centre and Library will be from the square at Östra Piren. A large glass facade ensures visual contact between the inside of the building and the surroundings. Visitors will be able to get an overview of the whole cultural centre from the information square and the atrium in the centre of the building. The different functions are carefully situated to create synergy while ensuring open, flexible and accessible spaces that invite visitors to interact, be curious and create.


The facade of the building is clad with robust wooden lamellas to minimize solar gain while allowing visual contact with the inside of the building. During winter, the warm light from the building will appear inviting to visitors. In the summer, a long bench, stretching the length of the facade, will invite passers-by to sit down or engage in activities around the cultural centre.


“The New Culture Centre and Library in Karlshamn is a library of the future, which is accessible, diverse and flexible. It is an example of a reinterpretation of the Nordic architectural tradition with a focus on the human scale, the Nordic light and the use of robust materials,” explained Mr Kim Holst Jensen, partner at schmidt hammer lassen architects.

The New Cultural Centre and Library in Karlshamn is the latest project in a long row of libraries designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects. This is the third library designed by the practice in Sweden. In 2006, the 8,000 square metre library in Halmstad was inaugurated, and the extension of the Växjö City Library was completed in 2003. Furthermore, schmidt hammer lassen architects is working on two libraries in Canada – one in Halifax and one in Edmonton – and another library, Dokk 1, in Aarhus, Denmark. Dokk 1 will be the largest public library in Scandinavia when it is finished in 2014.


schmidt hammer lassen architects

Karlshamn Municipality, Sweden

5,000 m2

2013, 1st prize in a restricted international competition

Buro Happold

Landscape Architect


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