Finland-based ALA Architects has won an international competition to design a new public library in Helsinki.
City of Helsinki launched the competition in January 2012 seeking proposals for the new building, which will be situated opposite to the Parliament building in the Töölönlahti area.
The 16,000m² building will feature a contorted timber volume and serve as the new central point for the city’s public library network.
Competition organisers said in a statement: "The building has a unique appeal and the prerequisites to become the new symbolic building which Helsinki residents, library users, as well as the staff will readily adopt as their own."
Helsinki deputy Mayor Ritva Viljanen and chairperson of the jury said the Central Library will complete the Töölönlahti area with its cultural buildings and bring to it an art form that is now missing, literary art and literature.
"The demands on ecological efficiency were especially high in this architectural competition, The Heart of the Metropolis," Viljanen said.
The library will feature public spaces and is expected to open in 2018.
ALA’s design is based on the idea of dividing the functions of the library into three levels, which include an active ground floor, a calm upper floor and an enclosed in-between volume with specific functions.
Under the plans, the ground floor will feature public spaces and group study areas below the curving wooden surfaces.
A reading room is planned to be located above the surfaces and a media facility and public sauna will be situated in the middle of the structure.
The wooden volume will be stretched vertically to create connections to the open main floors below and above.
Plans also include two main entrances, which will provide access to the building and a public plaza in front of the western facade.
ALA is currently working on a number of public projects in Finland including two theatres, five subway stations and a passenger ferry hub.
Image: The new public library in Helsinki is expected to open in 2018. Photo courtesy of ALA Architects.