In terms of both the cityscape and its symbolic significance, the Central Library will be located in the very center of Helsinki, the Töölönlahti (“Töölö Bay”) area. The new building will form a cohesive totality with the Finnish Parliament building, Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall, Sanoma House and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.The Central Library will be a combination of personal cultivation, culture, and entertainment. It will be a vibrant and functionally versatile meeting place, a house of literature in which the users are the focus.
The library will be at the forefront of the renewal of the city’s library services and the “Heart of the Metropolis: the Heart of Helsinki”.The new Central Library will be much more than a traditional library. It will be a dynamic entity comprised of the physical spaces themselves as well as technology, library collections, staff, cooperation partners, and clients. Of central importance is the benefit gained from new technologies in cooperation with clients and cooperation partners. The Central Library will be not only a physical space but also a new kind of digital library serving its clients in the library space itself as well as via the internet, ubiquitously spreading out into its surroundings. The new technology makes the contents of the internet visible also within the library spaces, integrated with the traditional library collections.
Architectural and Urban Concept
There are several incentives which are inspiring to the strong concept of future Helsinki Central Library. Basically one of the most important is the location and the shape of the plot, which is mostly flat and longitudinal.
However, also the neighborhood of the area is strongly motivating. Urban development with administrative buildings and railway station on the southwest side and large park with many relaxation opportunities, water surfaces and further important buildings on north and east sides are a very important stimulus to the proposal of the new building on the plot right in between them.
Our concept of the shape of the building in based on the connection of these two different environments. East side is actually blocked development clearly defining street space, while the west side is open to the green area with a ramp as a harmful taking people not only up to the roof but also inside – the main entrance is right under the ramp in the wide passage.
Additionally, the ramp is covered with seating stairs, which are like a tribune for those wanting just to stop by to watch park and relax. The northern part of the roof with the highest point of the building is slightly sloping down, so the large area of the roof is oriented south, it’s based on availability at the sunlight.
Besides restaurant terrace, three more terraces accessible from inside are cut into the roof. One of them is large reading terrace and two top work as cooling areas for the sauna. Finally, the second longitudinal ramp is adjoined the east facade to allow access also from the street side.
Addition to the main entrance there are two side entrances to library lobby – located in west and east facade forwarding each other. They are making a direct connection to park and street front areas. The service connection is ensured from Toloviksgatan Street as well as the VIP and staff entrance. Staff entrance works also as an alternative entrance to the restaurant and sauna, which are situated in the northern top part of the building.
The ground floor of the building is supposed to be open to all visitors of the library as well as to everybody else who need just pass through or stop by in cafe or shop situated at the west side. In summer there is a possibility to open part of the interior space out to the park. The longitudinal character of the building is suppressed by placing cinema in south part and a multipurpose hall with loading area on the north side.
The second floor is used for collections which are spread over. Children’s World is situated in northern part with windows from both east and west side allowing getting enough natural light for activities both in mornings and afternoons. In connection with Children’s area, magazines and further music collections are placed. In southern part there is cinema exceeding from the first floor, It’s oval shape is forming pleasure areas used for collections and quiet areas. Staff offices and personal working station are placed on the third floor, which is supposed to be calm and pleasure for work and studying. Also, the reading terrace is accessible from here. The fourth and fifth floors are designed to be used by external providers – restaurant with summer terrace and sauna are located there as well as three meeting rooms which can be leased. The access is provided by elevators from the main lobby, by staircase and elevator from Toloviksgatan Street as well as by exterior entrance from the roof terrace.
The concept of energy use in the building is interlinked with mentioned architecture and urban concept. The intensive green roof is kind of protective skin with the accumulative characteristic. Where the hard surface is, the water collection is provided. Water is filtered, stored in containers situated in the central technical space (between 1st and 2nd floor) and used for toilets. Top of the south oriented roof with very good solar irradiation offers space for 600m2 of solar panels producing electricity. Beside functional roof also functional double skin facade has been designed, which helps to protect the building both in summer against heat gains and in winter against strong winds. Heating system and hot water circulation are connected to the Helsinki central system. The building is equipped with central ventilation system with recuperation. However, in collection area and lobby, which are open through three floors, the nature ventilation is also used. There is split system for cinema, which has different requirements. Main service space is situated in the basement. In addition, there are two more service spaces – one in the center of the building and second serving the cinema is situated up to the projection room. The energy saving concept is supported by the compact shape of the building.
Materials and technical solution
The technical and material solution is considering the impact on the environmental, functionality and design side of the project at the same time. As the load-bearing construction glued-laminated wooden trusses and columns in combination with steel, where it is necessary, were chosen. The wood as a natural material can also be seen inside. Beside wooden visible columns also wooden floors are considered to be used. Staircases by east facade and elevator and installations shafts are concrete cores. The glass and solid surfaces were chosen so that there is a compromise between heat losses in winter and gains in summer. Therefore most of the glass surfaces are on west and east facades and they are equipped with exterior shading blinds where it is necessary.