Construction of the Oodi library has continued throughout the holiday season all around the building; from basement to ceiling structures. Installation, piping, welding, casting, and inspection work is proceeding hidden behind the walls, but a huge milestone visible even from the outside has been reached: the frame of the balcony is now complete. The balcony will open from the west side of the building, offering a unique view of the most valuable core of Helsinki.
The final seams of the balcony were welded during the two last weeks of July. There are many things that still need to be completed, including the surface structure over the steel plate elements. When finished, the balcony will offer an unrivalled panoramic view towards Kiasma, the Parliament of Finland, Helsinki Music Centre, and Finlandia Hall. The tower of the National Museum can also be seen on the horizon. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?
Seen from below, the steel structures that support the balcony can almost be considered works of art. However, they won’t be visible later: just like the rest of the steel structures of the building, they will be hidden underneath wood panelling. The frame is now complete, and inspections of its structures are ongoing. The welded seams of the grids are studied one by one using ultrasound, just like in the steel arches that support the building. Once the frame has been approved, it’s time for the façade elements, whose installation is already being prepared for on the site.
The north end is ahead of the south
Plastic coverings have been drawn over the outer walls of the north sector, to protect it from the rain, because that is where the first wood panels will be installed. That is also where work on the inside will begin.
“The north end is ahead of the rest of the building, but we are working all the time on the entire building. Floor work is proceeding as planned all around; the hollow-core slabs are in place, and more than half of the floor surface has been cast. We intentionally left a few seams open where the bridge structure will be further tightened,” says Mansoor Ardam, YIT’s site manager.
The unique nature of the overall project requires excellent planning in advance, strict monitoring, and keeping to schedules from the general contractor.
‘In a unique project like this, every stage has its special nature and everything takes its time. We must make sure everyone sticks to the schedule, because sometimes little things can stall the entire progress in a way that makes it difficult to catch up. Systematisation does not work here. We cannot operate like a car factory: this is by no means conveyor work’, Ardam explains.
The building engineering with its several pipe-laying projects has progressed up from the basement during the summer. The pipes are now at the second floor, where their supports were being welded to the ceiling in July. At the same time, the basement floor is seeing fire retardant treatment of ventilation equipment.
The building engineering is so abundant that its computer modelling makes you think of a bigger institution: a layman might take the view to represent a factory or a ship. The combined model using data from the various planners shows how and where the many technical systems, such as ventilation pipes, run between the different spaces. The large triangle in the middle represents the opening to be left between the floors. Glass railings are to be installed around it, allowing visitors to take a look at the lower floors from above.
The first interior walls are being built on the second floor, which will host studio facilities, a computer class, rentable work rooms, as well as office and negotiation facilities.
Some rooms will have dead partition walls and thorough soundproofing, while others will have glass walls. At the moment, the structures shown above the glass in the picture are being built.
Massive stairs coming up
Large, curved steel stairs will be installed in the middle of the building to bind the three floors together from the lobby. They will make an impressive element, which will also help people to navigate around the building.
The second floor will host a wide area with seats, which will rise upwards in small steps. The steel stairs will be located near this area, in the round opening. The grids and pillars of the building’s frame will be left partially visible, but with panelling.
A huge opening through the different floors is waiting for the 75-tonne stairs to be completed. The stairs are being made by Normek Oy, the company behind the steel arches that support the building. The installation of the stairs is expected to take place in December.
Attitude is everything, even in construction
Site manager Mansoor Ardam has his own philosophy regarding construction and the progress of the project. He quotes an Afghan saying, according to which the one with the brains of 40 ministers in his pocket is the one who will win the game.
“The participants in any construction project must consider everything in advance, and commit to doing their best. Hindsight doesn’t help anyone. Everyone must be capable of making decisions, and matters shouldn’t be bounced from one person to the next. In construction, there is always someone who doesn’t mind something being left hanging. However, the site can’t wait. Not even a single screw can be left waiting for someone else to decide. The attitude is what counts; don’t do your best – do whatever it takes!”
Computer modelling images: structural engineering and HPAC planning by Ramboll, architectural planning ALA-arkkitehdit.