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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

A New Ritual is Born in Denmark

The stunning new public library building in Aarhus, Denmark, seems to float above the shining sea of the city’s revitalized waterfront. The Dokk1 library opened in June 2015, a masterpiece of contemporary architecture designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

The much-loved library building forms the heart of the conversion of Aarhus’ inner harbor from abandoned industrial warehouses to vibrant civic gathering spaces.

Light floods the building through floor-to-ceiling windows. Energy is provided from the nearly 8,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels and seawater is used as part of the building’s cooling system. Serene reading areas and study nooks, as well as the colorful children’s library, café, performance areas, and city services center all have beautiful views of the surrounding harbor or the charming city center.

Dokk 1 is considered one of the leading public libraries in Europe.

Public artworks inside the library and on its outdoor surrounding terrace enliven the building with a sense of wonder and play. The most unique art installation is “The Gong,” designed by Danish artist Kirstine Roepstorff.

The 25-foot tall, 3-ton tubular bronze bell is suspended in the library’s central atrium. It commands attention not only with its elegant artistry. The gong is rung each time a new baby is born in town.

“When a child is born in Aarhus University Hospital at Skejby, the parents can press a button at the hospital, which sends a signal that releases the arm that rings The Gong at Dokk1,” according to the library’s website.

The Gong is engraved with a sun motif and an infinity symbol illustrating new life. It is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world.


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