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Architecture / Landscape / Urban Design
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Helsinki Central Library

Responsive to a confluence of factors that make this site unique, our design for the Central Library bridges engagement, community and discovery through a thoughtful choreography of form and function. The design draws from a layered understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that make this site unique. The library achieves richness through spatial diversity. Nesting scales nurture human activity and accommodate an array of activities while connecting the user to building, and building to context.
Urban Living Room. Instilled with natural and human qualities, spaces are carefully crafted and vary in scale according to function. Spatial hierarchy and acoustical zoning reflect the purpose of the various domains, from small, inward reflecting spaces to larger areas that nurture interaction, collaboration and community. In effect, the library becomes an urban living room
Circulation and Movement. Curves invite movement and exploration throughout the building, making for an engaging physical experience.
Organization in plan and section emphasizes flexibility of use, clarity of purpose, and fluid movement. The building’s cores delineate the building at regular intervals.

Spheres of Knowledge

Form Follows Context 

Context informs the Central Library’s design. Acknowledging its purpose in a prominent and highly visible location, a simple bar form is the most appropriate design for this site. Simple geometries and material expression highlight shape and profile. While respectful, the Central Library shapes a memorable and equally symbolic identity as an integral part of the cultural centre.
Entrance. Located on the park side, opposite the Finnish Parliament building, the main entrance respectfully and openly presents itself to visitors.
The Ground Level. The ground level of the library is programmed for maximum activity, and efficient building operations.
All facades on the ground level open towards the park, street and public; transparency and porosity activate the street edge.
Continuity between interior and exterior creates a dialogue with the adjacent Makasiinipuisto park. The café and reading terraces further enrich this experience.