Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Dokk1 Library in Aarhus, Denmark has been named as the winner of the Public Library of the Year Award 2016, beating several other libraries around the world, including two in Australia.

Becoming the first Danish library to win the award, Dokk1 defeated ARM Architecture’s Geelong Library & Heritage Centre in Geelong, Australia, SOM’s Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Library, and Bollig Design Group’s Success Public Library in Western Australia.

Completed in June 2015, Dokk1 is Scandinavia’s largest public library, containing space for a citizen service centre, offices and automated parking for up to 1,000 vehicles. The building is situated at the mouth of the Aarhus River in one of the most prominent sites of the city centre of Aarhus. Within seven months of opening, the library had already welcomed more than 1 million visitors.

“Our goal [was] to create a stimulating and dynamic environment… that fosters valuable and meaningful relationships between people; a cultural centre that everyone can see themselves in,” says Senior Partner Kim Holst Jensen, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.

The jury acknowledged the library for refreshing an underused part of the city by creating a building that reacts appropriately to its context on each elevation.

“It is evident that accessibility has been given high priority, not only in the positioning of the library, but also in the many outdoor areas and staircases that provide access to the building from all sides,” the jury says in a statement.

“This is supported by the shape and façade cladding of the building, which has no back, but has been given a primary façade on every side. In both the interior and the exterior, a classical construction element, the staircase, has been used as both a functional necessity and a place for meeting and resting."

The jury also found “great architectural value” in the choice of materials throughout the building.