Helsinki’s new central library Oodi opened on December 5, the eve of Finland’s 101st Independence Day, a fitting celebration for one of the most literate nations in the world.
Located at Kansalaistori Square in the heart of the city, Oodi promises to be a transformative and multi-functional space, defying any notion of the library as a dated public institution. Viewed from the outside it is a work of architectural beauty, with an exterior comprised of elegant lines in wood, glass and steel. Equally impressive is what is found within.
Library Oodi – Helsinki’s Cool New Living Room
Oodi offers a contemporary take on the library, not merely providing the traditional, silent refuge for readers but by allowing visitors to engage in a wide range of activities across its three floors. Each floor is designed with different functions in mind, with the overall goal of creating a public ‘living room’ that can be utilised by visitors in a variety of ways. The first floor comprises a spacious lobby area where one can visit the info desk and return book loans.
It is a mutable space, with a multi-purpose hall capable of being extended into the lobby area for large events, as well as a cinema and restaurant and a Fazer café, which is also located on the 3rd floor. The second floor is a creator’s paradise, containing studios for music and
Traditional library services are located on the third floor, with 100,000 books on the shelves and over 3 million more available through the library’s advanced service system. The design of this floor captures the timeless beauty of Finnish nature, the pure colours of the wood flooring punctuated by well-placed trees, white walls and shelves and a view to the surrounding cityscape seen through
Cosy corners and wide open areas, under an undulating white ceiling that reminds one of the winter snow, create a wondrous space for reading and relaxation. In the summertime, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city and look squarely at the Finnish Parliament building from the Citizens’ Balcony.
Cultural Heart of Helsinki
The development of Oodi has been an admirable exercise in democracy, involving the citizenry in the entire process, from the design of the building and its contents to the final selection of its name. It stands in excellent cultural company, neighboured by Finlandia Hall, Kiasma art museum, Sanoma media house and the Helsinki Music Centre.
Oodi is open weekdays from 8 am – 10 pm and on weekends from 10 am – 8 pm.