Together with leading Italian manufacturer of office furniture UniFor, Snøhetta has designed and developed a new type of shelving system custom-made for libraries in the future. The shelving is called Bokhus and was launched during Milan Design Week in April 2023.
Physical books have long been predicted to be replaced by digital content as society becomes more digitalized. At the same time, libraries' function in society is changing - becoming more of a communal space where people meet and spend time socializing and sharing knowledge. Therefore, creating a space where books are still valued and celebrated is more important than ever.
Research initiated by Snøhetta in 2019 led to a project for a series of objects aiming to both accommodate and help shape the evolution of libraries. The first element in the collection is the Bokhus shelving system, which will be presented at Milano Design Week 2023 at UniFor's headquarters and showroom in Milan.
The goal behind Bokhus was to create a shelf that is not only a book carrier but also adds warmness and finesses to the library space.
Lightweight and strong
Both Snøhetta and UniFor have long experience working with libraries and cultural institutions, tailoring solutions to the specific needs of each project. All design choices behind the Bokhus system have ultimately been made to accommodate and celebrate books while at the same time meeting the requirements of modern libraries and their changing role in society. Snøhetta's design has pushed UniFor's engineering capabilities to achieve structural integrity with minimum elements and connections to withstand the heavy load of books.
The casted connector is an essential piece of Bokhus. It connects the horizontal shelf to the vertical extruded spine and continuously connects the system with electricity through low conductivity - allowing for wireless, flexible programming of the individual wooden shelves. The integrated light illuminates the bookends and adds to the atmosphere of the surrounding space. All design elements, even down to the smallest details, such as the integrated book stops and low conductivity smart-track system, have been carefully designed to cater to efficient book storage, flexibility, and optimal user interference. Bokhus is intended to allow for expansion and new elements to be added in the future.
Despite the structural integrity and durability of Bokhus, the shelving system is both lightweight and easy to assemble due to the use of aluminum extrusion and refined technical solutions.
Union of simple shapes
The Bokhus shelving system blends Italian craftsmanship and engineering with Scandinavian design's simplicity and tactility. It is a union of simple shapes, intricate details, and skilled use of materials that combines metal's technicality and wood's warmth - the symbiosis between form and function.
The Bokhus Shelving System is the first step to re-think and modernizing how books are organized in libraries. Snøhetta and UniFor are currently developing a system to integrate a smart wayfinding system through e-ink displays, which will make organizing and tagging books easier for librarians. Furthermore, its clean, lightweight, and transparent aesthetics enhance a more social environment by opening the space.