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The winning proposal, Beacon of Knowledge. Illustration: Cobe
The jury’s role has been to identify a proposal from an architect firm, offering opportunities for future development and refinement and a balance between concept, function and economy.
Photo: Cobe
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Danish architect firm wins new university library competition

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The Danish architect firm Cobe has won the project competition for the new university library at Näckrosen with its Kunskapens fyr (Beacon of Knowledge) proposal. According to the jury, the winning proposal presents a building of strong character that greets those visiting and using the building with a convincing show of well-organised flows and functions.

– Cobe’s proposal best meets the operational needs of the university and the university library. Throughout the competition, Cobe has shown a keen understanding of our feedback. The proposal is also well suited to the sensitive local environment, and it opens the university area Näckrosen to Korsvägen in a way that enhances access to both the park environment and the university, says Morgan Palmqvist, Library Director at the University of Gothenburg.

The building’s strategic location, 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 contact with residents, society and business.

The new university library is to gather the existing Humanities Library, Arts Library and Music and Drama Library under a single roof. The new building will even house the university’s archives and the university library office and digital services section. The building will free up study places at the other libraries as well.

University library employees will now work intensively to plan in greater detail how best to use each individual square metre. The new building is not only to house the university library’s operations, but also those of external tenants and areas open to the public.

– As a tenant, this offers us flexibility in that we can both reduce and expand our operations to match future needs, says Morgan Palmqvist.

The book as inspiration

The purpose of the competition was to on a conceptual level produce an innovative proposal that meets the university’s need for new premises while in the best possible way fulfilling the requirement for a balance between form, function and economy. The jury, with representatives from Akademiska Hus, the University of Gothenburg, the City of Gothenburg and Architects Sweden, was unanimous in its decision on the winning entry, with the architect firm allowing the book to serve as inspiration and provide the starting point for the proposed design.

– Cobe’s proposal is the most adaptive, and it has a unique identity. It respects the special characteristics of the location while fulfilling the University of Gothenburg’s need for premises. Cobe is a worthy winner and will be our partner moving forward now that we are to refine and realise the proposal, says Hayar Gohary, project director at Akademiska Hus and chair of the jury.

A building of strong character that respects the cultural environment

According to the jury, the winning proposal presents a building of strong character that comprises a natural part of Näckrosen’s ensemble of freestanding department buildings. 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-organised flows and functions. 

– The new university library will afford the University of Gothenburg the necessary conditions to offer our students and researchers an attractive knowledge environment and access to unique collections. It feels great now that we have taken yet another important step of the journey to realise our goal of creating a meeting place for academia and society at university area of Näckrosen, says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg.

The competition has attracted immense international interest, and when the project competition was launched in May 2019, no fewer than 59 architect firms registered their intention to participate. A pre-qualifying round narrowed this down to seven entries. Of these, three firms were then chosen to continue to refine their proposals and sketches in consultation with the University of Gothenburg and Akademiska Hus.

    Det vinnande förslaget Kunskapens Fyr av arkitektkontoret Cobe.
    The jury feels, among other things, that the Beacon of Knowledge proposal “highlights and respects 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-organised flows and functions.” Illustration: Cobe
    Photo: Cobe
    Det vinnande förslaget Kunskapens fyr av arkitektkontoret Cobe.
    Illustration: Cobe<br /> &nbsp;
    Photo: Cobe
    Det vinnande förslaget Kunskapens fyr av arkitektkontoret Cobe.
    The automated storage system seen on the right in the illustration is due to be installed centrally in the building as a heart of knowledge.<br /> Illustration: Cobe<br /> &nbsp;
    Photo: Cobe
    Det vinnande förslaget Kunskapen fyr av arkitektkontoret Cobe.
    Bottom floor with a view over Korsvägen and Liseberg. Illustration: Cobe
    Photo: Cobe
    New university library
    • The design contest started in May 2019. 59 architectural offices that they wanted to participate. Based on a pre-qualification, seven entries were selected. Of these, three offices then went on to develop their proposals and sketches in consultation with the University of Gothenburg and Akademiska Hus.
    • Planned construction start: spring 2025
    • Planned to be ready for occupation: summer 2028