Helsinki Central Library

in collaboration with ateljvb


The north side of the building marks the park with it’s massive facade. The main structure consists of column/ floorslab method for easy assembly, flexibility before and after the building has been finished. Columns, beams, floor elements and walls are made of laminated wood, and where possible glue less interlocking massive wooden panels, providing a high insulation for both temperature and sound. The direction of the construction is formed out of the spacial quality of the bookshelves.


The central entrance is of human scale, pleasant and clear. The wide entrance lures visitors inside by it’s playful videowall, they are protected from the elements. A playfull hart is shown in the light behind and the space opens up in hight, connected to a transparent canyon which brings in light and connects the different entrances of the building. It provides a good perspective and info points direct the way to go. When you were just passing by, meeting a friend  for a cup of coffee, or browse some new magazines or books in the bookshop right next to entrance. All is connected to the main lobby on the ground floor.
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By placing the cinema and multi purpose hall each on one side of the entrance, the central hart is opened up by the flexible lobby’s and vip room on the first floor. The cinema and multi purpose hall, and the meeting and lounge area, can be separated from the rest of the building, the foyers bring refreshments. A stage in the canyon is visible from the main stairs which creates the exciting kids world and is a route to the lounge areas. Above all, a place to look at people going by on the gallery of the canyon. The kids world is divided into little space which vary in height and bring in light. The good connections to the main lobby, the cafe and magazines, makes it the starting education of the smaller ones.
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Flanking the kids world, with expansion possibility’s to the green house the rentable exhibition is located. Opposite of that the teaching spaces are located. The place of a cooking studio is positioned into the light of the green house, providing inhouse grown herbs and special vegetables, served in the greenhouse. On the south side of the teaching world a variety of double height spaces from the workshop groups for creative inspiration. Below the teaching area and the green house, on the ground floor, the sauna and restaurant are split by a patio, illuminating the centre of the restaurant. The patio is connected to the green house at the end of the corridor, the air intake clearly vissable. This division makes separation from the library building, in evening hours possible from the city side.
Entering the building on the park side is possible on two floors, and from the outside when the rest of the library has closed. The double high space provides a nice view over the new park and lets light enter deep in the building. Through it runs the books return automat mechanics very visible, giving insight in the distribution of the library books. In collaboration with the neighboring recording studio, small concerts or radio/television shows can hosted next door. On the first floor parents can drop the kid´s at their world and keep an eye on them while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

A moving Bookbar is placed right next to the main lobby. A returned book is dropped on the sushibar- like conveyor belt, automatically recognized by it´s chip and registered in the database. By popular demand the machine will then sort the books, leaving books for the collections area at the book handling, while displaying the popular books at a comfortable speed on the active display.

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Next to the bookbar is a big lazy staircase where you can sit, read, or meet people. At the top is the library collections area in a space with indirect northern light and space that can be darkened by using ceiling hung curtains. This area is also used to reach the fablab and studios.
Staff can enter the building on ground floor from outside past the bicycle storage, or through main lobby, very well connected by stairs, elevator or escalator. Direct connection to collection area and book handling.


The Collection
The Collection is processed in cross shaped bookshelves on the top three floors of the north side, creating a scenic and rustic view. An efficient and pleasant combination of displaying books or divers collections, and creating a variety of spaces in between for reading, browsing, returning and moving. The shelve-elements can be exchanged for different elements ranging from a bar or table, lower shelves for children, media watching and listening area, but can also house a copying machine or lending automat. The central part is the sock around the + shaped columns which acts as hub, supplying all necessary connections for media devices. Furthermore, the sock serves as supplier of fresh air, connected to in-floor piping, distributing the air evenly throughout the space, delivering it right next to the study places. At the middle part of the collection on floor 3, connected to the lobby, the bookshelves change into solid work-points around the socks. On the south side of the floor the flexible work-points overlook the green house.

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Compact volumes, organized around a central atrium that runs the length of the building are the main sustainability principle. Activities in these volumes define the location in the building. The less activity taking place , the higher and more to the north in the building. The building is divided in specific temperature zones, allowing for accurate control and reducing heat loss. On the south-side the atrium starts of in a greenhouse, preheating the ventilation air, each space then extracts air from the atrium, distributes it through hollow core floor elements and blows it in the main spaces at every column by the hubs in the bookshelf crosses. Floor heating is utilized to heat the majority of spaces, maintaining a steady temperature. Spaces with quick changes in temperature need, can be equipped with low temperature convectors. Mini/micro heat pumps are installed locally to provide the exact amount of heat demanded by the assigned space. The heat- pumps are connected to a small-diameter water-circuit throughout the whole building containing water at low temperature therefore strongly reducing transport energy-loss. A suitable heat source would be the end (low temp.) of the city heating system loop.

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The tunnel that will run below the building can become a steady source of heat. The thousands of vehicles passing through generate an enormous amount of heat that can be taken out of the ventilation exhaust by a heat exchanger. It can provide free energy , helping the greenhouse in preheating the ventilation air before it enters the rest of the building. In summer the relatively cool tunnel air can do the opposite. Plants in the shafts clean the air.

Facade elements angled, openings towards the north, let early and late sunlight pass, while blocking the hotter midday sun, lowering the need for cooling in summer. In winter the sunlight is reflected by a special coating on the glass onto the closed panel, the absorbed heat can the be used in the heating system.

The glass parts in the top floors that are facing the south sun, are fitted with in glass semi transparant solarpanels, therefore blocking sun and generating electricity. The open floor plans and central atrium minimize the need for artificial lighting during daytime. The angled panels in the bay windows reflect indirect sunlight deeper into the spaces, keeping direct sunglare out.
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Nighttime lighting of the building is as local as possible, the main lighting is kept to minimum, providing enough light on the spots where it is needed. Sensors turn tablelights off when they are not used. Flat Oled strips are used in the bookshelves to light op the titles, providing even lighting while using little energy.