Library | Helsinki | Finland

Type: public buildings
Client: The City of Helsinki
Planning: 2012 Competition     

Since time in memorial, we have been writing down our texts and stories. We shared, collected and stored these writings in libraries: The larger the collection, the better the library was.In an age where information can be accessed anywhere at any time, the library is not just about books anymore: The simultaneity of all media and the ease of their accessibility make for a vibrant and functionally versatile meeting place, which is the guarantee for a successful “Heart of Helsinki.”

For this stands our “Bookmark:  the media interchanger ”.

New technologies will play a major role, such as defining the Central Library not only as a physical space, but also a new kind of digital library, which can be accessed via the internet and such have a wider connection to the community which it serves.The information created by society is in constant flux and escalates at an ever increasing pace. The building should be adaptable and flexible, thus absorbing the changing needs of the occupants. This flexibility is conceived as the creation of floors which allow for almost any activity on planar floors, stapled and layered around a multivolume space:It is a three dimensional experience perceiving the transition of the outside park area into the inside vertical landscape accentuated by partially overlapping and mostly staggered edges like undulating contour lines.The urban setting of the Central Library in the heart of Helsinki shows a well thought out positioning among many prominent buildings. The basic figuration is an elongated prism, which we aim to retain in its overall simplicity, yet allow for more refinement in detail and internal spatial qualities. Being not only a library, but a multimedia centre and a communication platform for the people, we tried to make the building feel like an open easily accessible space.Very transparent facades towards the west and the Makasiini Park (where the main entrance is orientated) a skin of lamellas outside of the glazing produces an ever-changing effect on the appearance: a closed wall like surface from either side or a see-through screen when looked at head-on. There is a cut out in the skin exposing the ornamental structure and giving insights into a multivolume space. As if punched midway of the prism, a volume pushes out on the back side on the east elevation, where the facade is almost completely closed. Only the protruding shape has a glazed skin. The volume is covered with a highly reflective material.Towards the north and the Töölönlahti Bay the building shows a square LED-screen illustrating activities of city life, culture and nature.The other end of the prism is a far cantilevering body structurally allowing for a future underground connection. This is a covered outside area and is functional in terms of providing for a terrace right in front of the cafeteria. The cafeteria as such becomes a transition zone between the city outside and the public areas inside the Central Library.The vaulted structure of the roof creates an attractive sculptured rooftop. It is a modulated surface echoing the undulating fabrics of nature, yet remains a consciously designed element, setting another jewel into the crown of Helsinki.