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Royal Library Copenhagen. Logo.

The Black Diamond
Copenhagen

Architects:  Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen

Royal Library Copenhagen. Logo.

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It is the Danish Architect Association, Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen, who has designed "The Black Diamond", a modern building on the waterfront in Copenhagen for the use of the Royal Library, whose ancient domicile from the 15th century had become outdated and needed more room for efficient storage of literary material, and better facilities for the public.  The architects' vision was that modern architecture should organise the setting for life and work in such a way that interaction between shape, light and organic forms offer space.  To create space for a given purpose is creating identity.  Creating identity is the essence of experience -- hopefully traversing the standards and norms of time -- and is in itself an expression of the visionary.   

The Black Diamond!  Indeed an intriguing title for a building, whose shape suggests a diamond mirroring itself in the waters of the medieval canals of Copenhagen. The building is made of glass and steel, and clad in Absolute Black granite, mined in Zimbabwe and cut and polished in northern Italy.  Each stone weighs 75 kg. The composition of the building material immediately gave way for the name used by the public, and later officially adapted.   In 1999 Denmark issued a stamp showing this extraordinary building, whose facade is leaning towards the future, new horizons, a broader perspective.  The stamp was designed by the architects who designed the building, and engraved by the Swedish engraver Martin Morck.  The stamp is shown largely oversized for a better view.  

Denmark 1999. Architecture. Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen. The Black Diamond.

Postcard. "The Black Dianond" by Night. Royal Libary, Copenhagen.

The ceiling of the interior is decorated by the Danish painter Per Kirkeby (born 1938), who is the only Danish painter of his generation having world fame.  He did the decoration himself, by hand, like Italian artists painting the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  

Interior from "The Black Diamond" (Royal Library), Copenhagen.

The only image I could find of this ceiling -- shown here with the permission of The Royal Library -- only suggests what a marathon work it must have been to do this.     

The person walking on the floor gives an impression of the main room's huge size.  The oval thing hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the photograph is a modern lamp, giving light to the whole atrium.  

Per Kirkeby is originally educated as geologist, but around 1960 he began painting, and is self-taught.  He is also known in philately.  In 1995 he did an art stamp for France as an original art work in stamp format (not an existing work transformed to stamp format).  The original work belongs to the Postal Museum in Paris.  His native Denmark issued a stamp in 1998, entitled "Danish Autumn", of which also the original work belongs to the Postal Museum in Copenhagen.  Note that the two stamps are slightly different in size, as shown.  

France 1995. Painting by the Danish painter Per Kirkeby.

Denmark 1998. Painting by the Danish painter Per Kirkeby.

Denmark 1998. Maximum Card with painting of Per Kirkeby.

Denmark 1998. First Day Cover with painting by Per Kirkeby.

 

  • Denmark 1998.  Official maximum-card with a printed pre-paid stamp on the reverse side.  

  • Denmark 1998.  The Danish Philatelic Federation has issued an unofficial FDC at the occasion of the exhibition Nordia '98, held in Odense.  The cover is cancelled on 18th October 1998, and bears the logo of the Danish Philatelic Federation.

The modern logo of the library (shown on the top of this page) is remarkably well done and admirably clear in all its simplicity.  Look at it in vertical direction, and you see an open book adorned by a stylized crown, suggesting a (royal) library.  Rotate the logo 90 degrees to the right, and it reads KB in stylized form, meaning "Kongelige Bibliotek" (in Danish).  

Sources and links: 

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