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Ibsen Library

Ibsen Library & Visitor Centre

Parallel Comission, Skien 2018 in collaboration with De Gayardon Bureau, AP+E and Gattaca

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Holt O`Brien lead the team of De Gayardon Bureau, Gattaca, and AP+ E, in the parallel commission for the new Ibsen Library/ Visitor Centre in Skien. Henrik Ibsen being the international “father of modern theatre” is an important export for Norway, and is especially important for Skien where he was born. The city wants the new Ibsen Library to be an international attractor, but also a well used and well integrated civic function for the inhabitants of Skien. This was a particularly interesting commission, because we were able to influence the layout of this very important building at an early stage. Based on our comprehensive research and analysis within social, cultural, financial and geographical context, our project culminated in 9 concrete suggestions, proposing some major changes and restructuring in both the financial and programmatic scheme. In September 2018 the city handed in its preliminary recommendations to the city council,



The Ibsen Library was planned with a payment block on the Visitor Centre, a small part of the building which accounts for more than 1/4 of the planned budget. In our calculations we believe that as little as 1/10 of the users will visit this part of the library. We recommended that the building be seen as one, with no division between the library and the visitor centre and no entry fee. Not just to ensure access for all, but to create a lively attraction that contributes to the local urban life, all through the day throughout the year. Our proposal includes conceptual guides on how to distribute and overlap the exhibition with the circulation space, also making the building more compact. 

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IBSEN LIBRARY SKIEN - architectural toolbox - Ibsen stories

IBSEN LIBRARY SKIEN - architectural toolbox - Ibsen stories



We believe that Skien should honour the legacy of Ibsen, by using the library as a vessel for supporting its entrepreneurs and and aspiring artists. Ibsen himself moved permanently away from his home town at the age of 15, depriving the city of his productive years. We want to make sure this doesn't happen again, and to keep creative work at “home” in Skien . This is reflected in making working and production spaces available and to offer professional guidance to artists and start up companies alike.  In addition, our project includes an artist residency inside of the the library for a visiting artist. In exchange for a residency in exotic Telemark, and access to the world's largest Ibsen`s archive, the artist should be in charge of temporary exhibitions and an annual event. In that way the work of Ibsen is constantly being re- made and relevant, infused with new international impulses.