Helsinki’s new central library

Graduate work for the University of Oulu, Department of Architecture
26 May 2003, by Antti Lassila

Antti Lassila’s plan is based on the idea of a library which is open 24 hours a day. This is not a library which operates on the Internet on a 24/7/365 schedule, but indeed an actual library building which is open at all hours. Mr. Lassila has planned the 24 hour library with the needs of the public as a basis.

For his work, Mr. Lassila made images of the 24 hour library. The picture shows human faces and the ways in which the depicted individuals would use the library during different hours of the day and night. During the night, the library would be used by students or people taking part in an intercontinental video conference, and in the morning it would serve as a gathering place for students waiting for school to start, or as a popular venue for reading or watching the morning news en route to work. During the day, people could meet for lunch, borrow reference books, conduct meetings in a new environment, and school classes could visit. In the evening, the library would be the scene of lectures, visits by authors, and of panel discussions.

Antti Lassila feels that a large library situated in the centre of the city has a value in itself as a symbol of the library establishment and the creator of a public guise. According to him, the library, being a public building, must offer luxurious experiences to all its users. Concerning its activities and content, the central library strives towards a fresh, modern approach that reacts quickly to topical events.

With the help of modern technology, patrons are offered opportunities for interaction. Patrons may make their own contributions to the library database; they can give evaluations of material for others to read and they can have discussions with others interested in the same subject. Patrons can also produce their own publications in the library and even take part in the planning and advising of library activities.

Antti Lassila’s vision of the library includes traditional elements and activities which are an ordinary part of today’s institutions. The novelty of the vision is that the patrons of the public library and their needs will have a more central role and will be the basis for planning. The library is divided into various zones and areas which can be open at different times. These facilities range from areas open to the general public to those with such a degree of privacy that a card key is required for access.

Translation by Turun Täyskäännös Oy

Library Director in Helsinki, 1987-2013
Antti Lassila's vision of the 24 hour library