Sally and Edith in Europe

LIANZA Travelling Scholarship


Halmstad – Sweden

Having once strayed from the path of chronological reporting, I am now relaxed enough to just post on what is taking my eye.


I am very much looking forward to rocking up to Halmstad on the train in June.  I think I have successfully negotiated the train website and have booked a hostel minutes away from the library.  In some towns this might mean ending up in a dark alley somewhere but the Halmstad library is stunningly located on the River Nissan.  As an aside, when we plan our CCC libraries and are searching for land and location, we always try for a location with geographic interest…beach, river, park or view of something equally gorgeous.  Most times this is achieved with stunning result.  This kind of locale is a gift to a creative architect. 

The architects for this project was the Schmidt, Hammer, Lassen practice which has a stunning collection of public buildings under its belt and their main office is in Aarhus, another stop on my journey.

Opened in 2006 and about 8,000sm.  It is written that the light is amazing and the chestnut tree that forms the fulcrum of the building is a stunning feature.  What I am going to particularly focus on is the foyer/entrance/reception.  I have visited many libraries in New Zealand, Australia and Britain and I am not sure I have ever seen the perfect foyer/entrance.  At CCL I think this may be our weak point too.  Getting the function/form needs sorted is very tricky.  I have some thoughts on why this might be…without prejudice

1.  Possibly the most compromised part of the building for lots of reasons, connection to the surrounds, flow of pedestrian and car traffic, where it sits in relation to how people arrive all impact on location and direction on openings…there is an essay in this somewhere.

2.  Size…needs to be in context with the building…often too big or small, too wide, too skinny, waste space or not enough space.

3.  Designed beautifully for opening day without a lot of thought on what CRAP well meaning customer focused LIBRARIANS will find to clutter up the space…feeling a hobby horse moment coming on.  Our foyers fill up with notices, paper (old notices lifted by the wind and fluttered to the floor to create slip hazards and eye sores, mobility scooters, trolleys, wire basket stands of ‘older and bolder’ and so on.  And not to forget the ‘don’t’ signs….smoke, eat, stand sit,run, leave your scooter, child or dog HERE, please.  ARRRG.  I will leave that one to you to sort out.   If you are an interactive type of person, please send photos of great library entrances and foyers, we need all the help we can get  from each other.

Back on track.  Halmstad library entrance  – directly from….’The entrance is designed to engender a feeling of dynamism, movement and activity. The entrance floor accommodates Cafeteria, Reception, News section, Children’s section, Fiction section, and The City Gallery.

Currently we are working on the areas and locations of services and spaces for the new Central library and have similar thoughts about what should go on the ground floor.  This building will be of particular interest to me and I have a great feeling of optimism about what I am going to see and learn.