The city of Helsinki organised an international competition for the design of a new Central Library. The urban setting of the new Helsinki library is scattered with landmark buildings; the new library does not want to compete with Alvar Aalto and Steven Holl as future neighbours. Instead Space&Matter proposes a building as an integrated extension of the Töölönlahti Park. The library embraces the landscape and makes visiting the building a compelling appendix to a stroll in the park. Withdrawn from the turbulent city life, the library is a space for tranquillity and academia.
At the south side the building mass is completely submerged in the ground, blurring the lines between nature and the new intervention. The inner courtyard shapes the ‘knowledge landscape’; it provides the ground floor with light and gives a vast overview of the library's program. Functions that require a lot of daylight are located on the inside of the ring, next to the courtyard, while spaces that require less light are placed on the outside of this ring.
All the functions of the library are spread out across a single level. This allows for easy and quick access to the library program. All bookshelves surround the main courtyard. On both the inner and outer sides of this ring of shelves, the visitor finds the entire extensive library archive. In the center of the courtyard the old monumental VR Warehouse remains untouched and is placed on a pedestal as an icon for the industrial history of the site.