The new central library in the Finnish capital’s centre consists almost entirely of public spaces and offers a wide selection of services. There are three public entrances in the building – one in the south for the main pedestrian flow from the Central Railway Station, one next to the Kansalaistori square to the west of the building shielded by the overhanging canopy, as well as a secondary one in the northeastern corner – so as to provide maximum pubic access.
The building with 17,200m2 total surface area offers a technically and spatially flexible framework for cutting-edge, adaptable library operations, and acts as the citizens’ common living room and work space from early morning to late evening, seven days a week.
The key concept of the design is the interplay between the building’s three floors. The public plaza in front of the building continues inside, merging with the public spaces of the ground floor. This busy, constantly updated floor with a multipurpose hall, a restaurant and the National Audiovisual Institute’s cinema is suitable for quick visits and walkthroughs.
The building’s arching wooden volume creates two floors that perfectly complement each other. The middle floor is an environment optimized for contemporary media and latest tools, containing workshop spaces for music and multimedia.
The serene library is found on the top floor – a calm area under an undulating white roof punctured by skylights – floating above the busy city centre, offering unobstructed views to the surrounding cityscape. A large public terrace is formed at the top of the building canopy, the ‘Citizens’ Balcony’, providing a new destination from where people can meet and look over the city below.
The design won the 1st prize of a 2-stage open international competition, 2012-2013, and the library opened on December 5, 2018.