MDU architetti: helsinki central library proposal MDU architetti: helsinki central library proposal
dec 26, 2012

MDU architetti: helsinki central library proposal

‘hTree – helsinki central library proposal’ by MDU architetti, helsinki, finlandimage © MDU architettiall images courtesy of MDU architetti




the helsinki central library proposal by italian practice MDU architetti aims to develop through architectural and urban design, a new interpretive framework for facilitating the interplays among community, culture, nature and sustainability in the heart of helsinki. the framework is carried out following a simple but effective principle: each of the elements described above, must be opened to the interaction among people in order to enhance the establishment and preservation of a social space based on human and cultural sharing experiences. from this point of view, the project tries to close the gap between nature and culture, reinterpreting and transforming the classical image of a natural tree into an iconic device that represents a well distinguishable space where people can interact, use and produce culture. helsinki’s central library assumes the form of a tree, born in a strategic urban space, which metaphorically grows and develops, fed by all cultural and social experiences native to the human being. just as a natural tree is in continuous need of water, the ‘hTree’ where h stands for human – needs culture, community life and social sharing as lifeblood. taking advantage of the valuable location, the proposal aims to create a point of reference for the citizens of helsinki and visitors through the realization of a stimulating and vivid architecture.



the ‘hTree’ has many key elements, including the the conception of a highly transparent, open and easily accessible space, where people can interact directly making use of the available resources of the library; the use of totally transparent low reflecting glass, guarantees an inside-out perspective while allowing best use of the available sunlight. the adoption of a new concept of library in order to create an inviting, user friendly, cozy and pleasant space, capable of attracting all possible social groups and individuals by embracing multi-perspectivity and diversity. it creates a landmark for helsinki which integrates harmoniously into the cityscape and creates the conditions for an efficient functioning of the interlaced urban flows. the ground floor is conceived as an urban square upon which the ‘hTree’ creates a covered space where people can meet each other, socialize and share their interests. 

view from the parkimage © MDU architetti




the design is informed by a rigorous evaluation of building energy features that take into consideration the particularities of finnish climatic conditions, using prefabricated, modular and lightweight materials such as glass and wood to facilitate construction by reducing costs and time while maximizing flexibility and user interaction with several interior layouts. its absolute transparency allows a continuous eye contact and fusion between the interior library and exterior urban space, as one would contemplate the city through the tree branches and vice versa. the building presents a double envelope creating a more protected interior suitable for a library and a second covered but semi open environment which hosts the main event spaces (cinema, the multi-purpose hall and living lab), the services, and material handling facilities. a wide lobby where the events entrances are located offers the possibility for an efficient future connection to the multi-purpose facilities located under makasiinipuisto park. interaction and shared experiences are allowed through the extensive use of glass, which defines most space limits, while large openings within the floor slabs offer full-height views and help users to orient themselves within the library space. the extensive use of technological innovation, will turn the library into a vibrant and constantly transforming building. 

entranceimage © MDU architetti 

public square on the ground floor: entranceimage © MDU architetti 

reading space with voids in the floors allow views to other levelsimage © MDU architetti 

library areaimage © MDU architetti

site planimage © MDU architetti 

floor plan / level 3






concept diagram



structural concept




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • Really?i must be really getting old but that’s a lot of visual noise. I am sorry.

    nelsondreyes architect says:
  • for a library building,i think there is too much wood.

    Int.Arc.Stu. says:

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