Helsinki Central Library

The building consists of a dense structure of wooden carved screens. The succession of these perforated screens generates a porous solid where multiple sequences of interior spaces and exterior landscapes happen. Opposite to this massive operation the outer protective skin is conceived as a glazed façade of louvers and aluminum plates that maximizes the natural daylight of the library and protects from the sun in warm seasons.

The volume of the library is conceived as a transition between the city and nature by including in its language traditional elements of Finland architecture sometimes in really literal but also convenient way. In that sense the contraposition of organic architecture and sustainable wooden construction came into perfect place within the site.

The complexity and variety of uses all the program is concentrated in a single building to generate the maximum number of interactions. The general hall becomes the core of the building and creates a link between street and the public square, between the rail station and the park, between city and nature. From that space a Diagonal Agora expands through the building in opposite directions linking all the program uses. The movement of the façade plans gives the building the ability to adapt to its context, recreating the appearance sometimes of a forest and others a cozy homely feeling.

It is a public space that offers «warmer» and more intimate areas, as well as «colder» and open spaces, that will accommodate Finish culture as well as the Cultural Sauna would have done.

The library becomes then an open matrix, able to hybridize. It is also an interface that augments the interaction of its users with others, being passing-by citizens, common day users, library staff or material (books, data, etc).

If the corporeality of the structure of this proposal is self-evident (its texture, smell, etc.), the physical programmatic aspects should be developed to really convert Helsinki Central Library in a trully physical library.

We imagine the «physical experience» of the Helsinki Central Library should be as intense as a sauna (not necessarily including the sweating), and that is why we like to find inspiration in Alvar Aalto’s idea of the Monumental Sauna.

Therefore, it makes as much sense to have a library of smells (the Winter-garden and Summer-terraçe) and tastes (the Kitchen) as to have the complete works of Shakespeare, which are already available online.

Through the whole process, we have liked to imagine our proposal as a blank book to be written by Finnish people over the following 150 years


helsinki – finland
selected for a second phase 2012
chosen as public favorite and best energy performance 2013


municipality of helsinki


elena orte and guillermo sevillano (SUMA)
syra abella and joaquín mosquera (impresiones de arquitectura)
marina cisneros and jorge muñoz (255 arquitects)


bárbara rodríguez. architect
luis quintano. architect
rita álvarez. student
borja pérez. student
miguel rivera. student
raúl maximiliano. student
francisco mateos Cano. architect
vesa arosuo antti. local architect
eero lundén. local architect
miguel nevado. Timber Structure Engineering
ramboll. structure, mep and energy, façade, fire, daylight and costs engineering and consultancy.

Helsinki Central Librarymaster