Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Case: Ørestad Bibliotek


Ørestad Library is Copenhagen's newest library. By virtue of its role as the only cultural institution in the Ørestaden district, the new library is facing the challenge of setting up a cultural offer and providing Ørestaden with an active cultural profile. The library is located on Arne Jacobsens Allé in Ørestaden, on the ground floor of Ørestad School and as a neighbour to Ørestad Upper Secondary School. The library has three tasks: It is an ordinary public library for the area (Open Library); it is a combined public and school library, and it is the only cultural institution in the new city district. Furthermore, the library has possibilities and facilities that enable it to serve as culture centre for the area, and close collaboration with Ørestad Upper Secondary School is expected.

Focus on interaction between the virtual and the physical space

The library is innovative in several ways. First of all, it approaches all three above-mentioned tasks with a consistent integration of virtual communication of all offers. A large touch screen with a map of functions in the building is available at the entrance, and there are touch screens on the sides of bookcases, which communicate the offers of each particular bookcase. There is a touch screen with an overview of the entire area's activities and a presentation of players. Secondly, a large part of the communication is image-based. Everywhere across the library, there are chained iPads with uploaded presentations and communication about the library's many options. The interaction between the virtual and the physical space is crucial in the library's way of thinking. This means staking consistently on web-based communication that works as ever-changing communication via the many different screens in the space, and at the same time it serves as a helping hand for people to gain more from using the library from home or from their workplace/school, and it supports communication when the library is self-serviced.

Another important objective is to provide visitors at the physical library with the simplest possible access to information and answers. New users of the library can very quickly familiarise themselves with what goes on at the library, where the different library functions are found, or which librarians they will meet in the different units via features with photos where staff members introduce themselves. More seasoned users can search for titles and be told where in the library they can find what they are looking for, or they can read news about cultural offers in the city district. Selected points on the map show the library's offers as film, text and images, and by pressing the screen, users get a description of what they can find and where. 

Public library, school library and culture centre in one space

The library is laid out as two open plans of 600 m2 and 700 m2, respectively, with a main emphasis on ‘entertainment’ on the ground floor and ‘learning’ on the first floor. The main idea is flexible utilisation of the spaces so that during the afternoon, the school library is changed into a public library by means of the communication of content and due to the fact that practically all furniture and equipment can easily be re-arranged, adapting the space to different types of events and teaching. These principles also quickly turn the library into a setting for evening events.

As a starting point, the first floor features two furnished areas that signal: ‘cultural/discussion event’ and ‘teaching’, respectively. The first floor also has ample space for both individuals and groups to work. The young children's library is placed as an adjustable area with fluid boundaries in the ground floor's entertainment sphere.

The library is laid out without dedicated quiet areas, but in a way that always makes it possible to find peace and quiet, be active or find a workplace. The newspaper and journal section, however, is placed in an area that seems slightly secluded from the rest of the library, to the left of the entrance, while the rest of the library is found to the right. The only closed space in the library is ‘the Cinema’, which is a completely empty room with projector equipment, but without a permanent set-up of chairs, facilitating flexible usage. The school's 400 m2 drama hall is also at the library's disposal.

Local culture generator with special focus on children and young people

Ørestaden as a residential area is characterised partly by having many families with children. Children under the age of 12 make up a considerable proportion of the citizens. 

The area is also characterised by having been built over just a few years on a flat field, but with the metro, for instance, providing very quick access to e.g. DR-byen (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation's facilities), Christianshavn and Copenhagen's city centre. There are no cultural traditions or area identity to build on. The library has clear strategies for both. 

The focus on children is clearly reflected in the library's interior design and materials, where children-orientated areas have been placed centrally on the ground floor, while materials for adults are found along the walls. The library also focuses specifically on collaboration with the school. 

Ørestad Bibliotek

Caption: ‘The cave furniture element’ is an example of Ørestad Library's way of staking on children and their families. Photo: Signal Architects

User dialogue and branding in one go

The library's identity focus can be seen, for instance, in the proactive communication of the area's activities, but also quite originally in the project DIT HUS (YOUR HOUSE), which integrates branding of the new library and the experience of individual ownership as one whole. The central decoration of the library already consists of many hundreds of photos of the area's residents. The goal is to take photos of all residents in the district, in collaboration with the shopping centre Fields, and to expose everybody through continual projections of the pictures on the facade of Fields.

As a starting signal for the new library, the award-winning portrait photographer Lærke Posset was engaged to head the ambitious project, whose objective is to tell citizens and future users of the library that Ørestad Library is their place. Everybody who has wanted to participate has thus had their picture taken and now forms part of the gigantic photo collage in the new library space. As a culmination to the project, all portraits are to be projected onto Fields' facade in the urban space of Ørestad City. The project is interactive and all participants can have their photo shown on the facade by means of a text message code. The library promises that the photos will be impressively big and beautiful.


The objective with DIT HUS (YOUR HOUSE) is to use beautiful portrait photos to tell citizens and future users of the library that Ørestad Library is their place. A gigantic photo collage thus already adorns the new library space, and later this autumn, all of the portraits will be projected onto Fields' facade in the urban space of Ørestad City. Photo: Ørestad Library.

10. Jan 2018 at. 15:13


Ørestad Library is three houses in one: It is an ordinary public library for the area (Open Library); it is a combined public and school library, and it is the only cultural institution in the new city district.


See Jakob Lærkes, Manager of Ørestad Library, talking about the combination of public library and school library (In Danish)

The library creates a local family album

See more about DIT HUS here (In Danish)


The Danish Union of Librarians' professional journal, Perspektiv, has taken a look at the library's work as a digital frontrunner library. “The first thing that meets users at Ørestad Library is a 3D map of the library.”

Read more here


“A lush mountain village with hanging gardens, bays and small piazzas.” This is how KHR Architects describe their 8-storey school building in Ørestaden. 

Read more here

The dialogbox begins her. You can click on Accept cookies button or Enter button to close the box. The button is the last element in the box.

Accept of cookies

We use cookies on to improve our website so to meet the needs of our users. We use, among other things cookies to keep statistics about the traffic on the page so we can make sure that the content is relevant and easy to find. You may at any time delete cookies from 

Read more about cookies on
Cookie and privacy policy

(dialog box ends)