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New library becoming a reality


The Central Library building is almost ready!

The Central Library stands firm. The spacious and bright lobby invites visitors and is an open window towards wonderful Töölönlahti. Multiple entrances across the building draw in library enthusiasts and random travellers. All the different floors blaze with various colours and themes, the stairways race upward overlapping each other towards a high-rise platform that offers a stunning view down to the lobby. The highest level hosts a scenic café and a beautiful garden.

The library is all but completed.

Completed as a miniature model and on paper, that is, and in the eager heads of the talented architect students from Aalto University. This autumn, the Public Building Studio university course has challenged 18 motivated students to design a new central library building. Finnish and foreign students introduced their ideas during the mid-course commenting session on 16 November. The concepts were based on the Central Library project plan, but the students were allowed to go crazy with their ideas. The key challenge students encountered was how to effortlessly create a functional space for 5,000 daily visitors while considering aesthetics, illumination, and the rich surrounding environment at the same time.

The solutions that the students came up with were interesting. Combining public and silent space and allowing easy access were the top priorities. Many students trusted the future library vision by creating totally new, peculiar shapes and solutions. The students emphasised the adaptability and versatility of the space and different themes for the spaces, both in terms of material and shape. Many students were inspired by various kinds of glass materials as the project also emphasises views in and out of the building. Some relied on more traditional design. Some went for a village-like feeling, one used allegories such as spine and stomach for various parts of the building, one considered the library as a game and one student went to divide the building into three-coloured, playful boxes. However, most works shared the common theme “Box that expands!”, standing for a simple, rectangular shape that transforms and expands from the inside.

University teachers and architects Teemu Kurkela, Saija Hollmén, Claudia Auer and Ilkka Salminen provided the students with constructive critique and reminded about the importance of the psychology of the building. The building should invite people over, attracting them to engage in social interaction along with the separate important requirement for providing a quiet space.

The architect students will be put to their final test on 9 December as they receive their final critique. Following this, the works can be seen at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology in Otaniemi. However, the works will truly be in the limelight 10-12 February 2011 at the international seminar The New Library – Design and Function that is organised at the Marina Congress Center. The students’ works will be put on display and the seminar guests can discuss them together with the students.

In due time, the students will also have the possibility to take part in the actual architectural library competition for the upcoming Central Library. And why shouldn’t they take part: when the time comes, the students already are hardened young visionaries with a head start when it comes to designing libraries!

Therefore, the Central Library is really almost done!

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