And like that I’m back from a vacation to the Nordic countries that was, as my vacations often are, heavily aimed towards architectural visiting. So many buildings! And plenty to share in the coming weeks. Hard to know where to begin, and so with no reason other than it jumped into my head let’s start with the new Helsinki Central Library.
There’s lots to love here. Sinuous and sensual, the curving wood exterior forms an inviting covered entry, while the iceberg-like glass box that rests on top hints at the reading room to come. The curving wood continues to play around once inside on the ground floor, carving out spaces for the café and several gathering spaces.
Moving up one floor on the central staircase leads you to this amazing project area, with raked seating for work on your laptop and access to a maker space with sewing machines, 3D printers, video editing computers, cutting mats, power tools, and all sorts of other goodies, all nestled among wood-covered diagonal bracing. (I took a 360~ photo from the start of the project/maker space, you can view it here)
The top floor is where the books live, and yeah, it’s quite something. With the ceiling floating overhead like an undulating cloud the rows of books (and trees!) extend in both directions towards each end of the building. There, the floors rise up like a landmass, housing a reading room at one end and the children’s area in the other. Should all the glass makes you feel like going outside, you can, onto a large balcony that overlooks the city.
A wonderful new library and community hub, purposefully set opposite the Finnish parliament building to emphasize the relationship between governance and active learning, freedom of expression, and citizenship. And beyond books the library seizes new roles with the maker spaces, classrooms, theatres, and more. Great stuff.