helsinki central library by PAR architecture helsinki central library by PAR architecture
dec 06, 2012

helsinki central library by PAR architecture

‘helsinki central library’ by PAR architecture


the cityscape in all its variety—the idyllic baltic sea, the broad expanse of skyline dotted with spires, and the urbanized plane of töölönlahti was the incentive to design a building that concentrates on being vertical. in contrast to the other buildings in the district, an essential component of the design involved creating a public space at the top of the library—visually connecting töölönlahti to senate square and the city at large.


conceived by american PAR architecture, the library is organized by six intersecting axes that afford spectacular vistas while creating a variety of spatial configurations for the library’s program. with its six floor levels each pointing toward a celebrated landmark, the building becomes a symbolic center for city. public living rooms are located within the three sloping peaks, the reading room, sauna and restaurant.



park view



designed as a spatial sequence with surprising transitions, each floor of the library presents connections from social spacessuch as reading platforms, sun rooms and the observatory to helsinki’s enduring icons. with panoramic views of the city andsenate square dome, the observatory terminates the promenade of escalators and staircases that dynamically rise through the building.


a series of programmatic strips are stacked to create a narrow building that is optimal for the helsinki climate and library program.featuring 11.5 m deep plates that allow for flexibility in collections layout and maximize available natural light, they create an ideal reading environment crucial for the library. a super impostion of the strips is extruded up to maximum height generating a prismatic volume that contains a public void at the ground level. along the plaza is a multi-height atrium which opens up to the park andpedestrian pathway draws people into the library. the landscape block is at the same time integrated and outstanding, traditional and contemporary. it creates a stage-like space for the annual gathering of the national day of finland.






reading room



aerial view


psychogeography landmark map


integrated systems


spatial strategy


spatial strategy


facade development


program mix




project details:

project: helsinki central libraryclient: city of Helsinki

type: civicsize: 14,000 M2location: helsinki, finlandstatus: 2012, competitionengineer: arupenvironmental: arup, russell fortmeyer, senior consultantvisualizer: labtoparchitect: PAR (jennifer marmon, partner in charge; matthew young, project architect)team: ross ferrari, allison klute, cory ringo, seyoung choi, ryan fagre, tom ames, reza hadian, garrett runck, aliya popita, yen vo, cici luong, ji hao


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