Oslo Design Consultant


January 31, 2017

Designing one of the largest libraries in Scandinavia, with 13,500 square meters sounds like an exciting project, right? It definitely is, but it also means a lot of responsibility. A project of such a large scale demands extreme attention to detail and all participants to be in sync. So, how is this achieved?

We were called to tend to the process of this very significant project, as the aim was to create a library that was out of the ordinary in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Due to its enormous size alone, this project – Deichman Bjørvika – had the potential of becoming a symbol of social innovation in the realm of public spaces. There was a lot to be done and all helping hands were more than appreciated, we just had to ensure that they were all pulling the ropes in the same direction. Hands-on effort was required, but first it was important for us all to take a step back.

There was a lot to be done and all helping hands were more than appreciated, we just had to ensure that they were all pulling the ropes in the same direction.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at includi

All parties were doing their best, but as mentioned before, a step back would bring clarity. A library can be a very different thing to different people. If you go back to the ancient Greek origin of “bibliotheca” you will see that this referred to a building, or a collection of books, or an institution. An architect may see the library as a building, the interior architect will likely design an interior for a collection of books, and the library itself will probably take library to refer to an institution. To quote George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

The epiphany and the remedy

After realizing all the different possible implications of the term library, we explained we were not keen in finding out what they were doing, but why. This why-based approach rests on the thinking of Simon Sineck, who stresses that people do not buy what you are doing, but why you are doing it. Intrinsic motivation shows people your passion, your motives and your reasoning.

What-based thinking simply shows the results, which all others have as well. These parties were exceptionally dedicated to their why. They truly believed they could enrich people’s live by inspiring them. Motivation and reason for doing something is what ignites a fire in others and makes them follow you, or set foot in your library. Includi became part of the interior architect team and we all saw the library for what it was: an inspiring third space for the magnificent city of Oslo and for its people. This new library, Deichman Bjørvika, opened its doors in June 2020 and with great success, welcoming  5,000 – 8,000 visitors per day. 

Deichman Bjørvika (architecture by Lundhagem Architects and Atelier Oslo) won Oslo has won the international “Trend Brand of the Year 2020” award, a trend-setting recognition for libraries all over the world, according to the jury.

Photo credits Deichman Bjørvika: Gatis Rozenfelds / Scenario interior architects