Helsinki Library

The city of Helsinki organized an international competition for the design of a new Central Library. Since the urban setting of the new Helsinki library is scattered with landmark buildings from the likes of Alvar Aalto and Steven Holl, the new library did not want to compete with its future neighbours. In response, Space&Matter proposed a building that is an integrated extension of the Töölönlahti Park, in which the library embraces the landscape and makes visiting the building a compelling appendix to a stroll in the park. Withdrawn from turbulent city life, the library would become a tranquil knowledge landscape.

The design completely submerged the building mass at the south side, blurring the lines between nature and the new intervention. It featured an inner courtyard which would shape this ‘knowledge landscape’, providing the ground floor with light and giving a vast overview of the library's program. Meanwhile, it located functions that require a lot of daylight on the inside of the ring, next to the courtyard, and spaces that require less light on the outside of this ring.

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Space&Matter’s proposal also placed all the library’s functions across a single level, thus allowing for easy and quick access to the library program. Meanwhile, it had the main courtyard encircled by bookshelves, on both the inner and outer sides of which the visitor finds the entire extensive library archive. It also left the old monumental VR Warehouse in the centre of the courtyard untouched, thereby placing it on a pedestal as an icon of the site’s industrial history.

 

HELSINKI LIBRARY

Type
Competition

Location
Helsinki

Year
2012-2013

Status
Top 5 public choice

collaborators
Bruno Ebers
Markus Kraus
Sebastian Haufe