Oodi - world-class library and architectural attraction

Oodi's entrance from the Kansalaistori Square
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The Helsinki Central Library Oodi opened in December 2018 and was named already before its first birthday “Finland’s most beautiful building” (IS.fi) and “Public Library of the Year” in 2019 (IFLA)
The Children’s World on the third floor offers the chance to chill out and immerse yourself in stories
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Oodi is a modern building that is much more than just a library: in addition to borrowing books, you can also read magazines, enjoy breakfast or lunch, work from your laptop, see a movie, study, hold a meeting, organise a meeting, sip a glass of wine, create music, sew, print in 3D, read to your kids and play board games. Oodi offers a selection of 100,000 book titles in almost 20 languages, as well as magazines, sheet music, movies and games. Already in a short while Oodi has become one of the staples in Helsinki.

Conceived and implemented together

Oodi was expected to attract a huge number of visitors, and indeed the millionth entered the library before it had been open even half a year. The library was designed from the outset together with local residents to ensure that it met the expectations and needs of users in the best possible way. The name itself was proposed by the public. Altogether 1600 proposals were submitted, from which the jury selected “Oodi” as the winner. The planning process focused on service design, for example in the design and positioning of signs and furniture. Characteristic solutions were sought together for all the different floors and spaces, taking into consideration also the wishes of the project’s cooperation partners.

Unique architectural attraction

Oodi was a key project of the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. The building’s glass and steel structures together with the design language of the wooden façade combine both traditional elements and modernism. Indeed, the energy-efficient library serves as an impressive calling card for Finnish architecture. Finnish architectural firm ALA Architects was responsible for the main planning and architectural design, while the building contractor was YIT. The scent and sight of wood is everywhere: the façade is spruce, the floor on the third level is oak and the huge Citizen’s Balcony is pine. The total cost of the project amounted to 98 million euros.

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What has been said about Oodi: “Oodi is unique, but cosy!”; “My favourite place in Helsinki”; “I feel enormous pride that such a fine world-class architectural attraction has been built in Helsinki”
Oodi's South corner // Staircase with artist Otto Karvonen's artpiece Omistuskirjoitus ("Dedication")
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Three floors, three atmospheres

The design of Oodi was based on the idea of dividing the library’s functions into three separate floors. The building has an active ground floor, a peaceful top floor and a more enclosed middle floor for special functions.

Oodi’s ground floor is a fast-paced, ever-changing space with multiple entrances. The spacious lobby, public facilities, event venues, library services and café create a cosy atmosphere. It’s easy to access if you want to quickly return books or borrow paperbacks.

The second floor is dedicated to work, hobbies and meetings. In the Urban Workshop you can use a wide selection of professional equipment, including a 3D printer, vinyl cutter and sticker printer, as well as sewing machines, studios and music practice rooms. Various workshops and events are also held at the Urban Workshop. In addition, there is equipment and spaces for gaming, as well as guided gaming activities on occasion.

The third floor is a heaven for bookworms and has most of the elements of a traditional library. There are thousands of books, lots of places to read them and various seating arrangements for relaxing and observing all the activities. There is also a children’s section and a café. In summertime, you can admire the view over Töölönlahti Park and the city centre from the Citizen’s Library. You can even bring your own picnic or buy snacks from the café.

Two images merged into one. On the left is a view of Oodi's summer terrace looking towards Kiasma. On the right is a black and white photo of a couple holding each other while standing between the bookshelves in Oodi.
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A building packed with activities

The Kino Regina cinema screens both classic and contemporary films, as well as art and alternative movies. The full repertoire and schedule can be found on the Kino Regina website. Helsinki-info answers any questions you may have about the city’s services, immigration and digital services. There are also public computers that you can use and free WiFi. Brygga is a citizen participation space that showcases interesting projects and initiatives in the urban environment, from parks to roadwork and planning. You can also explore what the dream city would be like. [email protected] in turn presents the activities and goals of the European Union through various photo and video presentations, as well as games. Oodi also utilises robotics, and you can see a real robot at work in the Book Heaven on the third floor. In addition to traditional magazines, Oodi also has lots of tablets available for accessing foreign and regional publications in digital format.

Most of the spaces at Oodi are free of charge, while a fee is charged for booking the larger event spaces. You can reserve a space or workstation through the City of Helsinki’s space reservation system Varaamo.

Catering at Oodi is provided by Fazer Food & Co.

Controversial toilets

The public toilets at Oodi have attracted a lot of attention ever since the grand opening. Why? Because they are unisex, i.e. gender neutral. Oven though the doors are made from translucent materials, you can only discern silhouettes by standing up close to them. No movements are visible when sitting down. The sinks have been designed for users of all heights. The public toilets are situated on the basement level, which is accessible by elevator.


How to get there: Oodi is situated right in the heart of the city, approximately 400 metres to the north of Helsinki Central Station. Numerous trams (1, 2, 3, 5, 6/6T, 7, 9, 10) operate in the vicinity, and the nearest metro stop is Helsinki Central Station. 

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Oodi is a modern building that is much more than just a library. Oodi offers a selection of 100,000 book titles in almost 20 languages, as well as magazines, sheet music, movies and games.