With a design that combines traditional and contemporary flavors, Oodi is a striking building with its glass and steel structures and wooden facade. The energy-efficient library is an impressive calling card for Finnish architecture. ALA Architects’ design for the country’s flagship library, which stands opposite the Finnish Parliament, aims to ‘embrace technology and progressive values to provide a variety of innovative services alongside its lending collection of books’.
Oodi represents a new era of libraries. Apart from the top floor, Oodi’s facade is made entirely from wood, which softens the general appearance of the architecture around Töölö Bay. The wood used for the exterior wall is spruce. The newly completed building in the heart of Helsinki consists almost entirely of public space and offers a wide selection of services. Having been open for a year, Oodi has already become the new central point for the city’s public library network.
The design divides the functions of the library into three distinct levels: an active ground floor, a peaceful upper floor, and an enclosed in-between volume containing the more specific functions. This concept has been developed into an arching form that invites people to utilize the spaces and services underneath, inside and on top of it. The resulting building is an inspiring and highly functional addition to the urban life of Helsinki and the Töölönlahti area.
The Kansalaistori square (Citizens’ Square) across the street from the Parliament House seamlessly continues inside the ground floor level of the library building. The flexible spaces are suitable for both small events and large happenings. The movie theater and the multi-purpose hall can be used as continuation of the open lobby space or separated off to cater for specific events.
Walking through the ground floor offers a quick glimpse at the services available in the building. The sculptural wooden surface arches over the ground floor areas as a dramatic bridge- like structure. This innovative structural solution has enabled the creation of a column free public space to maximize the accessibility and visibility of the program.