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Central Library Oodi, ALA Architects, Helsinki

Dynamic and Energy-Efficient: Oodi Central Library in Helsinki

ALA Architects conceived the library as a three-storey block structure that interacts with its surroundings via dramatic architectural gestures. It is extremely energy-efficient thanks to local materials and the greatest possible influx of daylight. While the views of the two lower storeys are clad in Finnish spruce, the topmost level is completely glazed, offering panoramic views of the Nordic metropolis.

To the west, the building opens onto the main square in front and the adjacent parliament building in the form of an enormous, curved bridge construction. Steel supports add movement to the design in that they jut over the square, creating a sheltered entrance area as well as a terrace on the top floor. Ceiling-high glazing under the canopy melds the boundaries between inside and out and allows the public square to veritably flow into the library itself.

The spatial program of the central library is organized according to the individual levels of the building. The ground floor is home to high-traffic functions: a family library, cinema, café and restaurant are grouped around the support-free lobby, as are an auditorium, gallery and exhibition spaces.

The top level encompasses a spacious, lively libraryscape with around 100,000 different media; ALA Architects themselves call this area “book heaven”. It beguiles visitors to read, learn and stay a while. It is spanned by a delicate white roof structure that seems to float like clouds in the sky.

The building is completed with the interstitial storey. This is structured by the geometric particularities of the other two levels and comprises diverse private areas. There are working areas for communal use, a sound and photo studio, a maker space and a living lab, all of which invite visitors to explore their creativity and are equipped with modern technology.

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DETAIL 3/2021

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