Central Library Oodi, Helsinki Public Building, Public Finnish Architecture Images
Central Library Oodi in Helsinki
Finnish Contemporary Educational Building, Finland – design by ALA Architects
26 July 2019
World Architecture Festival 2019 Shortlist News
23 July 2019
Oodi, New Helsinki Central Library
Design: ALA Architects
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Oodi, the new Helsinki Central Library that opened in December 2018, has proven to be extremely popular with Helsinki residents and visitors alike. The building welcomed its one millionth visitor already in March 2019 with daily visits on the busiest days topping at 20,000.
People come there to spend time, not just to borrow and return books. The Urban Workshop is constantly crowded and the rentable meeting rooms and halls fully booked. Oodi perfectly fulfills its function as a no-threshold community center open to all. The building also has one of the best terraces in town to enjoy the summer sun.
Additionally, Oodi has gained world-wide publicity, and has recently also been selected both the jury and people’s choice winner of its category “Buildings Over 1,000 SqM” in the 2019 AZ Awards, as well as shortlisted for this year’s WAF Awards, Architizer A+ Awards and EU Mies Award, and longlisted for Dezeen Awards. In Finland Oodi has won the 2018 Steel Structure of the Year award.
Oodi truly represents the new era of libraries. The building in the heart of Helsinki, only a couple of minutes’ walk from the central railway station, consists almost entirely of public space and offers a wide selection of services, mostly free of charge. It is the new central point for the city’s impressive public library network. Its design divides the functions of the building into three distinct levels: an active ground floor, a peaceful upper floor, and an enclosed in-between volume containing the more specific functions. In addition to the library operations and the café and restaurant, Oodi also houses Helsinki Info, the City of Helsinki’s information center; Europa Experience, the center for EU related information; Kino Regina, the National Audiovisual Institute’s movie theater; and Playground Loru.
Oodi opens directly to the surrounding cityscape dissolving the border between indoor and outdoor areas. The Kansalaistori square seamlessly continues under the entrance canopy and into the building. The wooden front facade arches over the ground floor as a dramatic bridge-like structure. The resulting column-free lobby space is suitable for all kinds of events. Even the multipurpose hall can be used as an extension of the lobby. The massive entrance canopy forms a covered outdoor space and allows the building’s functions to expand to the square.
The middle floor consists of flexible rooms, nooks and corners inhabiting the spaces between the trusses of the bridge structure. These enclosed spaces are designed to accommodate group working areas, recording studios, editing rooms and the Urban Workshop with such equipment as 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and sewing machines in the visitors’ use.
On the top floor the best features of a traditional library meet the most recent technologies. The open space is topped with a cloud-like undulating ceiling. The serene atmosphere invites visitors to read, learn and relax. The top floor also offers unobstructed panorama views of the city center through the floor-to-ceiling windows and from the large terrace on top of the canopy.
The office and logistics spaces are kept to the minimum on the public floors to maximize the accessible nature of the library. The administrative and storage functions of the Helsinki Public Library remain at the main library in the nearby Pasila district. The book circulation relies on HelMet, the e-service of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries with 3.4 million works that can be reserved online and picked up from and returned to any of the 63 public libraries or six bookmobiles in the area.
The spatial concept has been executed by building Oodi as an inhabited bridge spanning over 100 meters over the open ground floor space. The bridge structure consisting of steel trusses and beams is supported by two massive steel arches, tensioned together with a reinforced concrete slab. This innovative solution has enabled the column-free interior spaces and the possible construction of a future road tunnel crossing underneath the building. Secondary steel trusses support the cantilevering balcony and roof canopy asymmetrically from the arch structure.
Oodi has been built using local materials and with local climate conditions in mind. The wooden façades are made from pre-fabricated spruce modules. The complex curved geometry was designed and manufactured using algorithm-aided parametric 3D-design methods. Detailed analysis of façade performance informed the environmental solutions and helped in minimizing the requirement for mechanical environmental control systems. The glass facades allow for large amounts of daylight in the public areas. The optimization of building services enabled the flexibility of the spatial arrangements. The energy consumption level of Oodi is that of a nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB). Its estimated life span is 150 years.
Photography: Tuomas Uusheimo
18 Jan 2019
Central Library Oodi Award
Mies van der Rohe Award Shortlist 2019
This building is one of the 40 shortlisted works:
3 Dec 2018
Central Library Oodi
Design: ALA Architects
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Oodi opens in Helsinki, marking a new era of libraries in the world’s most literate nation
The flagship library for a nation of booklovers, Oodi sets a new standard for public libraries around the world. With a mandate to promote lifelong learning, active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression, Oodi embraces technology and progressive values to provide a variety of innovative services alongside its lending collection of books.
Oodi – a new central library for Helsinki will open on the fifth of December 2018, a day before Finland marks its 101st anniversary as an independent country. Described as the nation’s birthday gift to its citizens, the 17,250 sq m library has been designed by Finnish architecture firm ALA Architects, led by Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki and Samuli Woolston.
Oodi Central Library embodies a new era of libraries in Finland and responds to the country’s 2017 update of its public libraries act, which established a mandate for libraries to promote lifelong learning, active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression. Oodi is located opposite the Finnish Parliament, a site chosen to symbolise the relationship between the government and the populace: with their two houses facing one another across a civic square surrounded by institutions of the arts and culture including the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the offices of the Helsingin Sanomat Newspaper and the Musiikktalo Concert Hall.
The design and programme of Oodi embraces technology to create new opportunities for access to books and culture. Only one third of the space within the library is used to hold books – a relatively modest 100,000 volumes at any time – however thanks to online services and a team of book-sorting robots, users of the library will have access to nearly 3.4 million items at the click of a mouse, making Oodi the principal service point within a much larger, distributed library system. Oodi is supported by the already well-established HelMet online library catalogue and ordering system, which gives access the Helsinki Metropolitan Area’s full collection.
The shift in priorities away from storage of a large static collection of books meant that Oodi’s librarians and designers were able to reconsider the role of the library. By entering into an extensive programme of workshops and consultation with library users, they chose instead to explore new and more inclusive ways of creating access. The resulting library is an indoor extension of public space, a civic “living room” that offers facilities such as a movie theatre, recording studios and a maker space, access to public services, exhibitions and community events in addition to books.
Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki said:
“Library services are an investment in people. By developing our people we are preparing our society for the coming era, where knowledge, ideas and culture are the commodities that a successful city will trade with the world. The principle that knowledge is for everybody is a long-established component of the success of Finnish society and essential foundation of a city built on trust between government and citizens.
“Helsinki is a world leader in the knowledge economy and the opening of Oodi reinforces its pre-eminence: this library represents a collective commitment to knowledge and its role in a more equal society where access to resources and equality of opportunity are encouraged for all.”
Nasima Razmyar, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki for Culture and Leisure said:
“Oodi is the figurehead of a public library service that exists to offer every citizen a free space with access to culture, freedom of expression and possibilities for self-realisation. Oodi sits in the heart of Helsinki, surrounded by the institutions of a modern liberal democracy – the national parliament, the free press, the arts and museums. Our hope is that this palace of ideas will bring people and institutions together and enable new interactions, experiences and understanding that will lead us to achievements that are greater than any of us could achieve on our own.”
Anna-Maria Soininvaara, Head Librarian of Oodi said:
“Oodi is a project that was born out of a long and detailed process of asking what a library could and should be. In consultation with our lawmakers, our colleagues and our users we have sought these answers collectively, making democratic decisions that support the needs and respect the rights of everybody in our society.
“On the fifth of December we will open a new building, and celebrate the completion of one chapter in the story of our libraries. New chapters will follow and we librarians are just beginning to explore our new space. As we go forwards we will use the spirit of collaboration and enquiry that we have built into Oodi to continue to develop new ways to serve the changing needs of all of our users.”
Antti Nousjoki, one of the three partners at ALA Architects said:
“Oodi is a large public forum of thought and action operating under the library organization, but with a range of reach and functionality well beyond a traditional book depository. It is an enabler of full versed public life, thought, production and sharing in the heart of the growing Helsinki.”
The design for Oodi was chosen following an anonymous international competition that attracted 544 entries. The winning design, completed by Finnish practice ALA Architects occupies a hugely significant unoccupied site, one of the last remaining in Central Helsinki. The swooping structure of the library, clad in planks of Finnish spruce timber, seeks to extend the public space of the civic square into the enclosed public space of the library, creating a covered canopy that blurs the boundary between the two and a balcony that allows library visitors to look across the square onto the national parliament building.
Public Libraries in Finland:
Finland was ranked the world’s most literate nation in a 2016 study1. The €98 million Oodi project will become the flagship of Finland’s internationally renowned network of public libraries, setting a new precedent for the future development of libraries around the World.
Public Libraries play a central role in Finland’s civic life. Access to public library services is a statutory right for all citizens and Finns are amongst the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries: the population of 5.5 million people borrows close to 68 million books a year – just over 12 items per person.
Finland spent €57 ($65.4) per citizen on library services in 2017. This compares with $39.34 in the US2. Finland was named the world’s most literate nation in 2016.
In the early 20th Century the leaders of the newly independent country embraced the public library as an investment in human capital and as a means to promote education and economic development in a region without a wealth of natural resources or an established industrial base. Today, Finland is an advanced economy but access to public library services remains a statutory right, protected in law. Finland’s first Library Act was passed in 1928 and was most recently updated in 2017. The act creates a mandate for libraries to create equality of access to culture, to promote lifelong learning, active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression.
Public Libraries in Finland have begun to explore a broad range of services in addition to the core activity of lending books. It is not unknown for Libraries to provide amenities that range from music rehearsal and recording facilities to community space. Oodi’s Maker Space, equipped with technologies such as 3D printers is a recent innovation that extends the tradition of lifelong learning by giving citizens the opportunity to access and experiment with new technologies that will shape design and manufacturing in the digital economy of the 21st century.
Libraries in Finland have also expanded into the sharing economy, offering users to borrow physical items, such as sports equipment, power tools, dinner services and other items of occasional use.
Finland used its 2018 contribution to La Biennale di Venezia Architettura to stage Mind Building, an exhibition that tracked the design of Public Libraries in Finland from the years before independence to the present day.
Public art at Oodi
Under Finnish law, the budget for every new public building needs to include a “percent for art” – meaning that a certain percentage of the total budget is required to be spent on public art. 100 000 euros were spent on public art at Oodi. Oodi’s percentage art is coordinated by Helsinki Art Museum HAM, who commissioned Finnish artists Otto Karvonen and Jani Ruscica.
The art work by visual artist Otto Karvonen is a dedication to the library’s users. Placed in the library’s public staircase, the piece is composed of words describing different population groups, collected through a public campaign and selected by a jury put together by the artist.
New ways of working
The design of Oodi has been heavily influenced by consultation with users and experimentation in branch libraries around Helsinki. By asking users how they used the library, and what they hoped libraries would help them achieve in the future, Oodi’s planners were able to reprioritise space in the library, giving more space for events and participation.
Oodi’s progressive cultural programme is complemented by the way the librarians that run the library have organised their work. Each of the teams within the organization has a degree of autonomy, with the ability to make collective decisions through a staff vote. Matters that affect the whole library are brought before all staff members before a vote is held.
Photography: Tuomas Uusheimo
8 Nov 2018
Helsinki Central Library Oodi Opening
Helsinki’s new €98m Central Library Oodi opens on 5 & 6 December 2018
Grand opening ceremony will be held to coincide with national celebrations to mark Finnish Independence day as Finns get their first chance to visit “the nation’s birthday gift to its citizens”
Oodi – a new central library for Helsinki will open on the fifth of December 2018, a day before Finland marks its 101st anniversary as an independent country. Described as the nation’s birthday gift to its citizens, the 17,250 sq m library has been designed by Finnish architecture firm ALA Architects.
The €98 million Oodi project will become the flagship of Finland’s internationally renowned network of public lending libraries, setting a new precedent for the future development of libraries around the World.
Built to house a variety of innovative services, such as a maker space and music recording studios alongside its lending collection of books, the library is expected to handle an estimated 2.5 million visits a year.
Public Libraries play a central role in Finland’s civic life. Access to public library services is a statutory right for all citizens and Finns are amongst the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries: the population of 5.5 million people borrows close to 68 million books a year. Finland was named the world’s most literate nation in 2016.
Oodi Central Library embodies a new era of libraries in Finland and responds to the country’s 2017 update of its public libraries act, which established a mandate for libraries to promote lifelong learning, active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression. Oodi is located opposite the Finnish Parliament, a site chosen to symbolise the relationship between the government and the populace, with their two houses facing one another across a civic square.
The design for Oodi was chosen following an international competition that attracted 544 entries. The winning design by ALA Architects was developed through an extensive consultation process with both library-users and librarians from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, which helped to determine the mix of uses offered by the library.
Oodi will open to the public for the first time at 8 a.m. on Independence Day eve, 5 December. The opening day programme will start at 2 pm and continue until approximately 8.30 pm. The programme will take place on the outdoor stage and the three floors of Oodi.
Central Library Oodi in Helsinki images / information received 081118
Location: Helsinki, Finland
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