Black Diamond, Royal Danish Library

Schmidt, Hammer and LassenDenmark

The “Black Diamond” is a characteristic new library building at the waterfront of Copenhagen. The building from 1999 is designed by the Danish architects Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen as an extension of The Royal Library and lies adjacent to the old library cathedral of Hans J. Holm from 1906. However, in form and materials it strikingly contrasts the old library building.

The name refers to the prismatic sharp edges and the black marble plates and glass of the exterior, that reflects the water of the harbour. Also from the wave-like balconies of central foyer, that cuts into the building as an 24 meter high atrium, there is a panoramic view over the harbour. The variety of cultural activities of the new building has turned The Royal Library into a central cultural centre of Copenhagen as part of the harbour promenade.

The seven stories of the building contain not only traditional library functions such as the four new reading rooms, but also a concert hall, exhibition galleries, bookshop, café and restaurant. The ceiling of the bridge between the old and the new is decorated by the Danish artist Per Kirkeby. In the old building of The Royal Library a Jewish museum has been designed by Daniel Libeskind in 2004 with sloping floors and light wooden interior.

(This section is written by ND)

Year of completion



Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1
DK-1016 Copenhagen K

Size of library: 

Category of library

Public Library

Awards and recommended reading

Read more at'Schmidt Hammer Lassen's homepage

Du Pont Benedictus Award 2003

Detail, website on architecture (in English)

The Royal library's own presentation of the building (in Danish)

Data sheet from the Royal Library on the building (in Danish)

Udvidelsen af det Kongelige Bibliotek.
Kleis, Birgitte
Arkitektur DK, 1999, no.8, p. 465-504. (in Danish)

Special features, internal

The painting on the ceiling is made by Per Kirkeby and is 211 m2.

Special features, external

The facade consists of 2500 m2 absolute black granite from Zimbabwe cut in North Italy. Every stone weights 75 kilo.

Overall Cost

€ 62.000.000

Detailed description

The bluprint from above shows how the new buildings 1 (Black Diamond), 2 (The Fish) and 3 (Hansens Building) are situated in the old part of Copenhagen. Building 4 is the old library and no. 10 is the old library garden.

Front of building: 
Side of building: 
Special view inside: 
Reading room: 
Circulation desk: 
Special features, internal: 
Special features, external: