The new CPH library is located in the very center of the city among a variety of landmarks plugged into the waterfront “promenade”, starting from the little mermaid in the north going through the royal danish playhouse to nyhavn, crossing the bridge, going through the experimentarium city until the opera house.


AREA | 1700 m² SDP

LOCATION | Copenhagen, DK

TYPOLOGY | Library

This location offers the New Library an important role to play in its relation with the waterfront and the city residents. As part of Copenhagen's urban strategy to transform the industrial port into a cultural and social center, we proposed a library interacting inside/out with the city residents acting as an interface for community life.


  • The site is approximately 1700m² and functions today as a parking lot for buses. It's main feature is the presence of the waterfront and the view towards Copenhagen Opera House and the Royal Danish Playhouse. 
  • In order to preserve the existing urban fabric of the neighborhood, especially the Tolbogade Street, the first operation was to align the library to the nearby building and to the street. The Tolbogade street facade is the most “connected” to the neighbourhood.

  • The orientation of the library towards the main views, the first one is towards the Royal Danish Playhouse, and the second towards Copenhagen Opera House. 
  • The waterfront location makes the new Modern Library site a very strategic area. In order to strengthen the link between the residents/visitors to the water, a «Soft Edge» was created. This is where things happen. The ground floor is where the communication between the building inside and outside occurs. This becomes possible thanks to its open-door habited terraced roof and to the porous and dynamic outdoor public space.

The main architectural feature lies in the permanent interaction of the library users with the public space, surrounding buildings and landmarks; From the inside, while reading, or consulting books, or from the outside with the large terraced roof acting like a symbolic link between the water, the library, and the community. 


More than a library, it works as an indoor/outdoor adaptable interface for Copenhagen’s community life. Rather than creating a traditional and conventional library, it offers a lively urban landscape. On the outside, a terraced roof offers a dynamic outdoor space, whereas inside, is found a flexible space dedicated to social and educational activities. The terraced roof is a place to relax and enjoy the view or "hang out" outside when the weather permits.

It enables public events, such as music concerts or festivals on the water. The building interacts with the city as much as possible and tries to interpret the way of life in Copenhagen which radically changes along the seasons.

The building dialogs with its habitants and community and proposes a flexible inside/out library program where it's main consultation and readers workspace, along with the cafeteria can be adapted to various social and educational activities such as meetings, exhibitions and social events. This space can also be totally autonomous from the other library rooms. This way the main library can remain closed while the Community space is open. The main entrance to the library remains though on the groundfloor where the entrance hall articulates the flow of people coming from Tolbogade street and from the south.


The orientations favorises the visual connections with the main landmarks in the area: Copenhagen’s Opera house and the Royal Danish Playhouse. Also the high glass facade has a dominant role in the users views; It enables transparency and allows permanent eye contact from the inside with the surrounding buildings in the background, acting like a decor to the library. During the night the building acts as a lamp illuminating the outdoor spaces. 

The terraced roof is a place to enjoy the view, it is a dynamic public space interacting with the promenade along the water. The bike parking is the first sequence of the Inside/Out Library (01). After parking the bicycles on Tolbogade street the visitor arrives to the Entrance Hall (02). The ground floor is therefore separated into two parts, on the right side, is the information and control desk (03), the lockers space (04) and the security guard office (05). The bookshop is the main feature of this space (06). On the ground floor.

The library administration office (08), it is in permanent contact with the entrance hall. A thematic exhibition space is also available which can be eventually used as an auditorium space (09) along with the kids area (10) where can be found children books. The library interacts with its Copenhagen's residents and community and proposes an adapted area at the readers workspace and foyer (21), cafeteria and kitchenette (22-23), they all can be transformed to be used for social and educational activities such as meetings, exhibitions and city events.

All these numerous conceptual, programmatic and urban aspects of this proposal make the library innovative and adapted to nowadays uses. It emerges as a core of information, knowledge and dialog within the Copenhagen community creating a space to encourage socialization and education along with a lively and dynamic dedicated public space.

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Nathalie Eldan Architecture 2021
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