Helsinki Library

Our proposal seeks to contextualize, join, and frame the surrounding Toolonlahti district and in particular, the Makasiini Park. Several strategies have been deployed simultaneously to allow the building to respond specifically to its context while at the same time fulfilling its role as an autonomous object and an articulated, culturally significant building which is in perpetual dialogue with the Parliament building across the park, the Music Center, and the Kiasma. Beyond choreographing the physical proximities of the district, the building also seeks to become a sort of social network which similarly looks to forge digital connectivity between people and institutions. Our goal for the new Helsinki Library is to transform the modern library into an active, participatory space which itself becomes a “central square” for information exchange and dialog between people via numerous media.


The building is bisected by an “Aerial Sidewalk” that passes through the building from the street to the park. This feature of the building is meant to radically encourage participation and social interaction between people, digital media, and the various programs of the library while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements for the varied hours of operation. Analogous to the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, the Tube is not merely a public circulation device, but also allows one to experience and view many of the programs which happen alongside of it while passing through. Like the Kunsthal in Rotterdam and the Carpenter’s Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Tube seeks to bring public space off of the street level and into the building. A sample trajectory might include a journey from Alvar Aallon Katu, by riding up the escalator. Along the way, you are given privileged views of the interior of the Children’s Library, the Living Lab, and the Cinema before arriving at the Digital Starfish‐Central meeting area floating above and within the Lounge of the Library. The Digital Starfish would be a highly mediated space and would — as it sounds — integrate liquid crystal displays into the interior surface of the walls, floor, and ceiling in a form of digitally pixelated community bulletin board — and accessible to posts from local WiFi servers. It is hoped that you might witness the life of the city from this space as you bump into friends and acquaintances. From the Digital Starfish, escalators are available up to the Multipurpose Space, down to the Meeting and Lounge Area, up to the public roofscape, or out to the Makasiini Park. Additionally, the surface is perforated with small glazed opening offering variable transparencies to the spaces beyond. As you descend down to the Park, you are offered glimpses of the Library exhibition room, the reading porch, and the Library collections.