The Helsinki-based architectural office ALA has won the design competition for the new Helsinki Central Library with their entry “Käännös”. The open international two-stage competition attracted over 540 entries from all over the world.
The 16,000 square meter (approx. 172,000 square feet) library building in the heart of Helsinki will consist almost entirely of public spaces. It will serve as the new central point for the city’s impressive public library network. The Central Library is slated to open in 2018.
The winning entry is based on the idea of dividing the functions of the library into three distinctive levels: an active ground floor, a calm upper floor, and an enclosed in-between volume containing the more specific functions.
This concept has been developed into an arching form that invites people to utilize the spaces and services underneath, inside and on top of it. The resulting building will be an inspiring and highly functional addition to the urban life of Helsinki and the nationally significant Töölönlahti area.
“Käännös” grows from the dynamic between the site and the goals of the library program. The interplay between the building’s three individual floors is the key concept of the entry.
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.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Architects: ALA architects
Project Team: Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston with Aleksi Niemeläinen, Jussi Vuori, Erica Österlund and Martin Genet, Vladimir Ilic, Tiina Juuti, Julius Kekoni, Pekka Sivula, Jyri Tartia
Collaborators: Renderings: Vizarch.Cz / Petra Grísová, Josef Veselý, Vratislav Zíka Energy technical specialist: Arup / Paul Dunne Mechanical engineering: Arup / Paul Dunne, Susan Cormican, Luke Stewart, Mona Holtkoetter
Structural engineering: Arup / Rory McGowan, Aidan Madden, Colm Morrin
Facade engineering: Arup / Anthony McCauley
Scale model: Stoltmodels / Klaus Stolt
Area: 16 000 m2
Client: City of Helsinki