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Helsinki Central Library

The design grows from the dynamic between the site and the goals of the library program. The key concept is the interplay between the building’s three individual floors.

The public plaza in front of the building will continue inside, merging with a catalogue of meeting and experience features. The ground floor will be a robust, busy and frequently updated space suitable for quick visits and walkthroughs. The active, zero-threshold public spaces will be visible, attractive, understandable and welcoming to all visitors.

The traditional, serene library atmosphere can be found on the top floor. This will be a calm and contemplative area floating above the busy central Helsinki. It will offer unobstructed, majestic views to the surrounding park and cityscape.

These two contrasting spaces that perfectly complement each other are created by an arching wooden volume. The spaces inside the volume will be enclosed and more intimate. The wooden volume is stretched vertically to create connections to the open main floors below and above.

Aerial view, day
Aerial view, night
View from the direction of Parliament House
Southern entrance
View from the direction of the Töölönlahti bay
Outdoor café
Ground floor, lobby
Ground floor, lobby
Ground floor
Ground floor, movie theater
Middle floor, Living Lab
Middle floor
Middle floor, studios
Top floor
Top floor
Top floor
Top floor, children's area
Top floor
Top floor balcony
Aerial view, June 2017, photo: Hannu Vallas / Lentokuva Vallas
View from the direction of Kansalaistori, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
View towards Sanomatalo, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Middle floor, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Site view, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Top floor, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
Top floor, July 2017, photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
West elevation
North & south elevations
East elevation
Longitudinal section
Short sections
Urban site plan
Ground Floor
First Floor
Second Floor
Ground Floor Axonometric
First Floor Axonometric
Second Floor Axonometric

NAME: Helsinki Central Library

TYPE: Open competition, 2013, 1st prize

STATUS: Under construction, scheduled to open in December 2018

LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland

CLIENT: City of Helsinki

PROGRAM: Library functions, group working spaces, recording studios, maker space, movie theater, multi-purpose hall, café, 17,000 m2 total

TEAM: ALA partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston with Niklas Mahlberg, Marina Diaz Garcia, Jyri Eskola, Zuzana Hejtmankova, Anna Juhola, Malgorzata Mutkowska, Justin Ng, Aleksi Niemeläinen, Marlène Oberli-Räihä, Olli Parviainen, Anton Pramstrahler, Akanksha Rathi, Pauliina Rossi, Mikael Rupponen, Mirja Sillanpää, Miguel Silva, Pekka Sivula, Tom Stevens, Tuulikki Tanska, Nea Tuominen, Jussi Vuori and Erica Österlund

COLLABORATORS: Pöyry CM (project manager), Ramboll Finland/UK/Denmark (structural engineering), Finnmap Infra & Sipti Infra (geo planning), Projectus Team (HVAC), Insinööritoimisto Lausamo (electrical engineering), Insinööritoimisto Markku Kauriala (fire safety), Gravicon (BIM coordination), VIZarch (renderings), Arup (energy technical specialist, mechanical engineering, structural engineering and facade engineering in competition phase), Klaus Stolt (scale models)