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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Helsinki Central Library in Finland by Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

November 28th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

Shared Dreams is a proposal for the new Helsinki Library, sited at a strategic point within the city, the cultural cluster in the Töölönlahti area, with the Helsinki Music Centre, the Aalto congress centre, and the Kiasma contemporary art museum. Office buildings and housing also contribute to urban life around the Makasiinipuisto Park. The new library is committed to strengthening this cluster.

AERIAL SIMULATION VIEW : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

  • Architects: Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez
  • Project: Helsinki Central Library
  • Location: Helsinki, Finland
  • Architect: Thoma Amarty, Pierre Voirin, Charlotte Thietart
  • Client: Helsinki City
  • Type of Competition: Open International Competition
  • Program: Library, childrens’ world, Exhibition, Cinema, Public service space and office
  • Site Area: Competition Study Area : 4 800 m²
  • Building Surface (Projet): Usable Floor Area : 10 526 m², Gross Floor Area 19 560m²
  • Result (21th November 2012): Conpetition Entry
  • Competition entry submission: 1st stage : 16th April 2012
  • Designer: Toshihiro KUBOTA, Francisco Martinez, Yves BACHMANN
  • Energy-technology expert: Elioth (egis group) / Sebastien Duprat, Aymeric Anqutin
  • Perspectives: Jigen
  • Software used: 3DSmax, Rhino

CLOSE VIEW FROM THE PARK : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

This project conforms to the proposed massing and urban regulations, while endeavoring to give a coherent response to the program and the environment. The variety of the urban conditions will be, from the very beginning, reflected in the concept of the building and the organization of spaces.

SUNSET VIEW FROM MAKASIINIPUISTO PARK : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

The library is the point of departure for the mixed-used buildings to be developed in future to the north. To the east, there is a new office building between the railways and the library site, framing the new street, which serves the new development area. To the south, the building will articulate the access from the train station and bus station.

VIEW FROM KANSALAISTORI PIAZZA TO MAIN ENTRANCE : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

The strong determining axis of Baana, the pedestrian and bicycle path whose line runs through the park and is determined by the railway warehouse, intersects with the west façade of the library and points to its entrance. The cross point between Baana and Mannerheimintie is the main gate to the park. From there we see the entrance to the library.


Planning gives priority to pedestrian access. The traffic-free space of the park is an asset to the city, which draws many cultural attraction spots around it, and should be available also to the library. Urban continuity is the strategy. At ground floor level the library will be connected to the public space, opening it to all the activities and events taking place, through a continuous arrangement of sloped floors, open, transparent and flexible.

VIEW OF LIBRARY COLLECTION AREA (4TH FLOOR) : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

A sequence of functions such as exhibitions, a café, a cinema, a sauna, meeting spaces, an event hall and a restaurant continue the urban public space onwards from the lobby area. The library’s urban program will thus activate the public space and contribute to the cultural life of the area.

VIEW OF CHILDRENS’ WORLD : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

From here a transition is made to the library spaces for collection and consultation. These occupy the two upper floors on the second and third levels, and take advantage of the light, the view, and the calm.  These spaces are more intimate or more precisely programmed, according to requirement.

VIEW FROM INHABITED DOUBLE SKIN TO FINLANDIA HALL : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

The consultation spaces in particular will enjoy the views and the natural daylight of the upper floors. They will be acoustically protected from the noisy urban/public spaces to provide excellent work conditions, but will be easily accessible from the entrance by means of escalators, as well as having visual connections to the public spaces.

Master Plan : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

These two worlds, with different conditions, share a large central void where the escalators connect all the levels. This atrium provides natural daylight and a full clear view of the entire spaces of the building, permitting multiple visual connections between different levels. Lounge areas, working points, and some general collection areas, distributed at all levels from the ground upwards around the central void, will introduce the ambience of the library already from the entrance, guiding the visitor to the collection areas in the upper levels.

program axonometric view : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

The New Library is flexible, transparent and readable. It offers a free cultural forum to the city, fully accessible. Shared dreams is intended to be easily understood and appropriated by Helsinki inhabitants and visitors. A double-glazed curtain wall envelope shapes the building, in a straight and simple geometry. This efficient outer skin materializes the thermal line of the building. Double-glazing units run between the floor slabs, which are expressed on the façade to reinforce movements and circulation within the building.

Diagrams : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

There is an additional interior glass skin to the two top stories, the levels of collections and consultation spaces. This second skin, more organic in its geometry, brings additional thermal performance to the long-stay spaces, as well as a second layer to the building, revealed behind the exterior skin, through the reflections and transparencies, which will vary in appearance and intensity depending on the angle of incident sunlight. The subtlety and complexity of the building and its interior skin emerge behind the glass envelope of the outer skin. A second layer of detail enhances the perception of the building, behind the apparent simplicity of the glass box.

Story 2 : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

In the two upper stories of the library, the volume between the strictly flat outer skin, straight and simple, and the free inner skin, organic in line, creates calm spaces for reading or working, quiet and acoustically isolated. Inhabited spaces in the double skin enjoy some privacy from the general space, and a privileged location at the same time, next to the façade in direct contact to the views of the park, with exceptional daylight conditions to work.

Story 1 : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

These spaces can also be isolated visually with curtains or movable partitions, and provide the blackout for presentations or video projections. These buffer areas also enjoy good standards of thermal comfort, in winter as in summer, creating a new spatial situation, with interesting working conditions: An inhabited double skin, inspired by great Finnish designers like Alvar Aalto and EeroAarnio.

Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

We advance towards the hybrid library, where digital documents are taking the place of physical books. The physical support has to coexist with many new media. The library as a building is necessary, gathering all these media and offering them to the city in the most attractive conditions. The new library is flexible, adaptable to future unknown evolutions and new uses. We share the dream of this new library enhancing connections, creating links and generating human knowledge.

Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

Site Plan : Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

Details: Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

CAD Section: Image Courtesy Kubota&Bachmann Architects+Martinez

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Categories: 3dS Max, Building Campus, Library, Rhino

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