Stormen Library, Bodø, Norway – a wooden staircase to library heaven

Written by Tony DaviesFor how to contribute to Library Planet look here: https://libraryplanet.net/contribute/

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Bodø is a small city just above the Arctic Circle. It’s the northern terminus of Norway’s railway system and a port on the famous Hurtigruten express boat service along the Norwegian coast. A jumping off point for tours to the beautiful Lofoten Islands, the town itself was heavily bombed during World War 2.

The Stormen (Norwegian for Storm) Library and Cultural Centre was designed by UK firm DRDH Architects and opened in 2014.

The concert hall is situated at the end of the main shopping street, and a little further along is the library with a cosy and small-scale entrance. At the other side of the library building, huge full height windows overlook the harbour. Being designed as two separate buildings rather than one large complex allows the buildings to settle more comfortably in the small scale townscape and become an integral part of the town.

We visited on a mild spring day and the neutral coloured concrete exteriors of the building were soft and calm, but the building’s facade is designed to reflect the changing light and must look very different in dramatic stormy weather or under the Midnight Sun.

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In contrast to the concrete exterior, the interior of the library is softer and warmer, with beautiful woodwork.

The ground floor of the library features a stylish café, a gallery space featuring children’s artwork and displays, and the library collections and reading spaces. There are lots of public events including art shows, exhibitions, and lunchtime concerts.

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A dramatic staircase of beautiful wood leads up through a central void to the upper floors and the full height windows give views towards the harbour from almost all parts of the library, while also allowing natural light to reach the interior spaces. On the upper floors are more collections and study spaces, computers, and a children’s play area.

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The northbound Hurtigruten ships dock in Bodø for about three hours which is the perfect amount of time for a stroll up through the town, along the shopping street, past the concert hall and culminating in a visit to the library overlooking the harbour – it really is saving the best for last. Just time enough for a coffee and cake in the library café before walking back to the ship.

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