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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 entered, together with De Gayardon Bureau, Gattaca, and AP+ A, the parallel commission for the new Ibsen Library/Visitor Centre. Henrik Ibsen being the international “father of modern theatre” is an important export for Norway, and especially importen 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 lay-out of this very important building at an early stage. Based on our comprehensive research an analyses within social, cultural, financial and geographical context, our project culminated in 9 concrete bids, 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,



Ibsen Library was planned with a payment block on the Visitor Centre, a smaller part of the building that takes up more than 1/4 of the planned budget. In our generous calculation we believe as little as 1/10 of the users will visit this part of the liberally, which leaves for an uneven cost and benefit situation. We recommendation that til building is seen as one, no division and no entry fee. Not just to ensure access for all, but to create a lively attraction that contributes to 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 artist. Ibsen himself moved permanently away from his home town at the age of 15, depriving the city to benefit from his productive years. We want to make sure this doesn't happen again, and to keep creative work “home” in Skien . This is reflected by making working and production space available and to offer professional guidance.  In addition our project includes an artist residency inside of the the library for a visiting artist. In exchange of a residency in exotic Telemark, and access to the world's largest Ibsen`s archive, the artist should be in charge of temporary exhibition and yearly events. In that way the work of Ibsen is constantly made relevant, infused with new international impulses.