Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



The Common Square

This design challenge describes a number of measures and functions that can contribute to creating life and to supporting different activities in the library's large spaces.

Regardless of size and plan solution, almost all libraries will have a central area for people to stay and a gathering place. This ‘common square’ often constitutes a building physical link between the library's thematic material collections and specialised spaces. The common square is often one of the spaces at the library that needs to be able to support the greatest number of different activities. It can be the setting for staged experiences, theatre, readings or music. It can provide a background for the presentation of material collections, or it can feature a lounge area etc. It can also be the setting and common room chosen by many of the library's users who are not so much searching for the collections as for a meeting place or a place to study.

The common square requires space for physical activity and floor space. The Rotunda at Tårnby Library has space for dance, music, talks, workshops, exhibitions etc. Photo: Tårnby Main Library

Mobile bookcases and light furniture can improve flexibility. This photo is from Aarhus Main Library, where the Tech Lab is laid out so that the users can quickly alter the layout as needed. Photo: Aarhus Main Library

The material collection needs to appear light and interesting, possibly featuring subjects of particular current interest. At Aalborg Main Library, the Pulse works continually to present highly topical material. Photo: Peter Søholm Simonsen.

The furniture should ideally invite people to stay a while and serve as a setting for spontaneous meetings. At Entressen Library, the openness and zones support both lengthy stays and spontaneous meetings. Photo: Signal Architects

Obvious functions in connection with the common square

Cafe in the common square: An efficient cafe function in the library's common square can contribute to prolonging the visitors' stay. In connection with large cultural events where the common square has been converted into a stage with seating, a cafe in the area can be the background for buffets and similar. You can read more about the cafe as a function at the library here.

Stage: The stage is another function in the common square, which it would be obvious to have as a permanent fixture or as a function that can be set up through quick adaptation of the space. You can read more about the stage as a function at the library here.

Exhibition display cases: A third ingredient in the common square can be exhibition display cases or digital installations that can support changing thematic exhibitions, where the library uses text, images and sound to focus on an authorship, an art form or a particular era.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas of how the library's ‘common square’ can be designed and/or which functions this area should support, or if you have comments to this article, please feel free to contribute via the Facebook group.


05. Jul 2017 at. 13:36

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)