The winning proposal, Kunskapens fyr (Beacon of Knowledge). Illustration: Cobe
Photo: Cobe

Frequently asked questions about new University Library

University of Gothenburg and Akademiska Hus are planning for a new University Library in the area of Näckrosen. On this page you can find answers to frequently asked questions.

A new University Library addresses the entire University’s need for research and study environments. We also need to be able to offer attractive premises for students and researchers in the future. Currently, study environments are somewhat unseen. By having a new University Library, we assume responsibility for our students and the settings they work in. The University Library has ever-growing collections, and current libraries are cramped. In addition, the library cannot properly provide long-term care for priceless collections that are threatened by moisture and harmful insects. A new library and modern solutions create flexible study environments and make the library’s unique collections available to researchers, students, and the public.

The building’s strategic location, close to several of Gothenburg’s cultural institutions and the public transport hub at Korsvägen, enables the University to open some of its operations and premises to new forms of collaboration and contacts with residents, society, and the private sector. The new University Library will be a central meeting place in the “knowledge city” – Gothenburg. At the same time, an important starting point is the ability to safeguard the privacy of researchers and students in the new building.

No. Akademiska Hus, the property owner, also plans to rent space to third-parties. The project includes a significant proportion of offices for the commercial office rental market. Since we are still in the early stages of the process, Akademiska Hus does not yet have any definite tenants. There will also be spaces open to the public.

The new University Library will bring together the current Humanities Library, Arts Library, and Music and Drama Library under one roof. The new building will also house the University Archives and the University Library’s office and digital services unit. The building will free up study places in the other libraries as well.

We plan to equip the new building with an automated storage system to accommodate the library’s collections and automate receiving and lending. In addition to streamlining storage, the automated storage system will make the collections more accessible to students, researchers, and the public. This type of system, which can be found in Norway, the United States, and elsewhere, does not yet exist in any library in Sweden.

The project has looked at the option of building an external storage area but found that it would not be cheaper, more efficient, or sustainable. An external storage area would also not fulfil the library’s mission of making its collections accessible.

New construction enables us to streamline the University Library’s existing premises. The new library will accommodate three of our current libraries: the Humanities Library, the Arts Library, and the Music and Drama Library. In addition, it will house the University Archives and the University Library’s office and digital services unit. The building frees up space from the other University Libraries around the city, where there is great demand for study places. We can do this by moving some collections to the new automated storage system.

We are also still at an early stage in the process. Now that we know which architectural firm will design the building, the University of Gothenburg, together with the winning architect Cobe and Akademiska Hus, will plan premises we really need in more detail. Since the University of Gothenburg is a tenant, we will have the flexibility to both reduce and expand operations to match future needs. Akademiska Hus plans to rent areas the University Library does not need to third-parties. A large part of the project includes offices for the commercial rental market.

The jury for the design competition has been tasked with finding a proposal that can be developed further and that strikes a balance between form, function, and finances. As a tenant, we focus on planning the premises inside the walls of the building so that they suit the needs of our operations and visitors as much as possible. The building’s strategic location in the Näckrosen area, close to several of Gothenburg’s cultural institutions and the public transport hub at Korsvägen, provides the necessary conditions for the University to open some of its operations and premises to new forms of collaboration and contacts with the public, the community, and the private sector. Akademiska Hus, the University of Gothenburg, and the winning architect Cobe will now continue working together on the proposal.

The competition was arranged by Akademiska Hus in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, the City of Gothenburg, and Architects Sweden. Representatives from these organisations have also been on the jury. During the competition, the jury has also enlisted the help of several experts, consultative groups, and the County Administrative Board.

The competition, which began in May 2019, was a thorough process during which the jury has heard many proposals. The competition had various components. The first part was a pre-qualifying round in which 59 architectural firms from Sweden and other parts of the world registered their intent to participate.

Based on the pre-qualifying round, seven firms were selected to produce proposals and sketches. Exactly which architectural teams submitted these proposals has been kept secret, even from the jury. Of the seven proposals, three firms then proceeded to develop and enhance their proposals in consultation with the University of Gothenburg and Akademiska Hus. The winner of the competition was the Danish architectural firm Cobe. Cobe continues to be our partner in further developing the proposal.

“A strong and distinctive building that forms a natural part of Näckrosen’s ensemble of freestanding buildings for university departments. The simple and distinct design concept underpins the library’s location, use of space, height, and colour. The Beacon of Knowledge highlights the values of this cultural environment at the same time that it greets those visiting and using the building with a convincing show of well-organized flows and functions.”

The University of Gothenburg has submitted our needs for premises to Akademiska Hus. They have determined that it would not be possible or profitable to renovate the current Library to meet our needs.

For Akademiska Hus, demolition is never an end in itself or a first choice. On the rare occasions when Akademiska Hus has still decided on a demolition, it first carefully investigates sustainability, construction techniques, and financial considerations and analyses the premises needs of the organisation to see if they can be met with the existing building stocks or if there are other alternatives that do not involve demolition.

Akademiska Hus determined that the part of the current Humanities Library built in the 1950s needs to be demolished to make the new building feasible. According to the plans, the part closest to the Humanisten built in the in the 1980s will be retained and renovated. This has been a prerequisite in the design competition, as stated in the competition programme. Demolition makes it possible to develop a new building on the site based on the needs of the University Library. The upcoming detailed development plan also aims to enable demolition and construction on the existing car park. At the same time, it is important to add that plans for the new University Library are at an early stage and no formal decisions have yet been made on a demolition.

At this state of the project, several decisions still need to be made by the University of Gothenburg, Akademiska Hus, and the City of Gothenburg. In parallel with our planning to ensure that our needs for premises are met, the City of Gothenburg is working on a new detailed development plan.

According to the current planning, construction will not start until 2025 at the earliest, and the building will be completed in 2028.