Honourable Mention 375 The Heartbeat of Helsinki
This is a well researched proposal containing many interesting ideas. The building has changed considerably after Stage 1 of the competition in terms of appearance and placement of the main facilities. The original light and playful overall shape has transformed into a more conventional glass building. The influence of the cityscape on the building is partly lost. The building mass has been informally bent in accordance with the site-lines of the surroundings, and thus the main space has been oriented towards Töölönlahti bay. The roof terrace and the city walkway leading there are fun as ideas but theoretical in the Finnish climatic conditions.
The main entrance has been moved to the Kansalaistori square side and the open and covered urban entrance oriented towards the Elielinaukio square has been abandoned. The main entrance is inconspicuous and the appearance of the building, despite its transparency, is not inviting. The side entrance on the Elielinaukio square side works well. The stairs on the gable end, which dominates the view as one approaches the building, is unpleasant.
Inside the uniform and somewhat vague overall shape, the building is divided into three transversal zones. On the Töölönlahti bay side is a light-filled “library world” rising in terraces, which is cut diagonally by stairs that ascend from one level to the next. They divide the floors into spaces of different sizes. The management of the acoustics of the main space would be awkward due to the diverse use and large volume. Placing the café in the entrance hall lobby is an improvement in terms of the acoustics. The small auxiliary and workspace “cubicles” on the street side were not seen as a desirable solution.
On the city side of the building are the multi-purpose hall, cinema and exhibition space, one above the next. The multi-purpose hall on the entrance level opens well into the lobby space. The cinema above it, on the second floor, and the exhibition space on the fourth floor are already difficult to access. They are also left unnecessarily separate from the other library spaces. The full-height entrance lobby is left between these groups of spaces. It is spacious and interesting, and there are views from it into other spaces. However, the lobby does not convey the message that one is inside alibrary. The functions that serve the general public have been placed to the side, in lower spaces beneath the terraced levels.
The entrance lobby and the restaurant on the ground floor can be opened towards the park side. There is no covered outdoor space. The restaurant, placed beneath the main space of the library, opens well into the park and can operate independently in the evenings. The access there from the library is also easy.
The service traffic and the loading spaces in the basement as well as the transport routes upwards of library material are well functioning. The basement floor is compact and comprises no public facilities. From the point of view of the staff, the internal circulation routes are poor. Adaptability varies on the different floors. The spaces can be monitored but require a lot of staff because there are public facilities on six floors and the spaces beneath the galleries are fairly low. Furthermore, the large spaces at the south end are separate from the other spaces. Orientation in the main spaces is good.
The building mass is compact and the area of window surfaces large. Sun protection is efficient and the utilisation of daylight is one of the best in the competition. The air-conditioning solution has been carefully designed. The machine rooms are placed unfavourably in the basement floor. The achieved energy efficiency is among the best of the proposals.
The development of the window walls is unfinished, and such a light-weight structure cannot be built in wood. The thermal transmittance values [U-values] are not in accordance with the regulations. The floor area of the proposal is in accordance with the target, but the volume is large.
The building is not located fully on the building plot and the protrusion on the street side is too low. The stairs and duct reservations for the City Centre Tunnel are lacking. The proposal still includes the underground shopping galleria, which was determined as impossible already in Stage 1.
This is a spatially interesting and meritorious proposal, the further development of which, however, has not been fully successful in terms of the cityscape and functionality.