The brief has addressed the new thinking in terms of libraries, that they should not be hard civic buildings, but transparent buildings which form part of the urban fabric of the city. They should become permeable, transparent and inviting for the modern citizen. We have seen the Library change vastly over the last 25 years adding more functions due to changing ways of disseminating information such as computers, e journals, needs of locals, children and young adults, these series of spaces help define what a new library should become.
It needs to be flexible and adaptable over time for what we cannot plan will be needed now. First and foremost the library is about the book, and the pleasure of reading a book bathed in soft light surrounded by calm and serenity.
With the Helsinki Public Library we have tried to consolidate all of these concerns into one concept: The Book Loop. The book loop starts with a drop off at the library entrance to the south. The lobby also connects back to the park at the south west. Rather than create a series of office like floor plates, we decided to make a continuous loop. The reason for this was to make an urban experience for visitors to the library and to answer concerns of flexibility. Such a large building needs to be a journey through diff erent spatial, programmatic and visual situations. As we climb up the loop we experience different snap vistas of the city from different library programs until we climb all the way up to the park on the roof which looks over the entire city and waterfront.
Function: Public library
Type: Open International competition
Size: 16 000 sqm
Client: City of Helsinki
Collaborators: Buro Happold