Snøhetta shares the story behind Bibliotheca Alexandrina in new book

The book Bibliotheca Alexandrina tells the story behind this iconic project in Egypt, which kick-started Snøhetta's career in 1989. Through Snøhetta's own words and official voices involved in the project, the book retraces history to explore the importance and impact of architecture, art and design, and also of cultural exchange, mutual understanding, and collaboration. The book is designed by Snøhetta and is the first to be published through Snøhetta Books.

Since 1989, when a then-unknown collective won the international architectural competition to design the library, Snøhetta has grown into a global architecture and design practice, while the Egyptian society has experienced deep change, among others, with the Arab Spring in 2011. After its opening in 2002, the library has influenced the lives of millions of visitors and citizens, both on a local and global scale.

To commemorate 20 years since the opening, the book explores how the library came to have the impact it has by looking back at the past, reflecting on the present, and peeking into the future. It also tells the unknown story behind one of Snøhetta's most defining projects through a wide selection of unpublished historical material and pictures, a series of images of daily life at the library by photographer Nigel Shafran, as well as several interviews and essays.

The book is made up of two parts:

The first part includes sketches from Snøhetta's architects and artists and previously unseen photographs from the design and building process, accompanied by articles written by Gunnar Stålsett, theologian, politician and formerly on the Library of Alexandria’s Board of Trustees, Odd Karsten Tveit, author and journalist covering the Middle East for Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK for three decades and the late Jacques Tocatilian, Director of the Office of Information Programs and Services at UNESCO.

The book also includes an in-depth interview with Snøhetta's founders Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Craig Dykers, by Norwegian journalist Hilde Sandvik, which also touches on the importance of libraries in today's digital world, as well as an article about the art on the stone wall which was designed by artist Jorunn Sannes and sculptured by Kristian Blystad and local stonemasons.

Part two includes a series of photographs taken over two days in November 2017 by British photographer Nigel Shafran, showing how the library is used by locals and employees – as a contrast to typical architectural photography.

The book will be available for sale worldwide soon through, with preorders open now via emails to