Ulsteinvik Library


February 8, 2018

See how synergy between architects and the local community led to a magnificent public place. A small-scale harbor town and a library with a massive program: how can these two things be combined to create an inclusive third space, without being overwhelming?

The Ulsteinvik community was ready for change and decided to host an architecture contest for its library. The winners were local Oslo architects Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter. The project was meant to be a blend of a sports hall, swimming pool, climbing tower, library and parking garage. With so many facilities and activities, the architects split the program that was offered into several parts. Clear distinctions were made with different scales, such as the designated square area of space for each component. The building managed to fit well into the town thanks to a very humble yet modern approach of Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter. Clear-cut segments of the program added value for the patrons; the library building provided multiple options of use without being overwhelming. The final challenge was that of interior design.

Clear-cut segments of the program added value for the patrons; the library building provided multiple options of use without being overwhelming.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at includi

The local community sought out Audun Hopland as an innovation manager to kickstart the interior design process. Together with the library, Audun held a small conference, getting the town involved in the process of discovering what changes they wanted. Some press was invited, and people arrived to share their ideas on the future of libraries- one of them was yours truly. We conveyed some of our key ideas, including empowering the library’s patrons. As mindsets shifted, the idea of a traditional library was redirected towards a socially inclusive third place for all. After a week-long design workshop, we presented a new design sketch for the interior.

Ready? Sketch. Go!

Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter were co-creators in realizing the new sketch idea. They welcomed the novel approach with open arms, and we teamed up instantly with the library staff to design the interior together. The library demanded its own identity that would fit within the house. The aesthetics were therefore composed to harmonize with the visual style of the building. Reds, oranges, different shades of wood, greys, and some yellow accents came together to provide a wooden, warm and informal environment for people of the city. Strong images and unexpected structures give the space a unique character, inspiring the patrons and providing them with a mental address. Jumps in scale add an informal element, such as giant geometric cushion caves or cocoons which also provide a more intimate reclusion option. Flexible, stimulating and informal, this library is a cultural melting pot. Ulsteinvik is now a go-to third place that welcomes all the city’s inhabitants, both as a venue and a destination.

Project credits:

Ulsteinvik Library is a co-creation of includi (design concept, strategy, creative direction) and Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter (in-depth design, production design & development). Photography edited by Marco Heyda.