Helsinki Central Library Oodi is a living meeting place right at the heart of Helsinki. It is one of 37 branches of Helsinki City Library. The architectural masterpiece is not a typical library where one goes to take out books but it is in fact a meeting place. Oodi is what you want it to be. You can meet friends, create art, read and relax. You can make an excursion out of this experience and visit Oodi with your family, book a meeting room or spend a work day in a calm environment. You can even hold your own event at Oodi!
The ideology behind public libraries has it that the library is a cultural centre that, in addition to literature and reliable information, also offers diverse and innovative services. This also holds true for Helsinki's central landmark Oodi, which is a house of literature and of diverse urban experiences. Apart from the traditional library services, Oodi also features a café, restaurant, cinema, art, studio facilities and an urban workshop, for example.
Oodi symbolises the core values of our society, such as education, culture, equality and openness.
Oodi is a library of a new era and a pioneer in library services, leading the way in the library world. For instance, Oodi makes use of the most recent robot technology that leaves the library professionals with more time to serve customers. Services is continuously developed together with customers and partners.
It's a perfect fit for a literate nation taking public learning to the next level.
Three floors, three atmospheres
Oodis architectural concept is based on a notion of dividing library functions to three different types of floors, each with their dedicated atmospheres.
The first floor is a fast paced transformable space. It holds a spacious lobby for organising various events, the library’s information desk, book returns as well as a café. The cinema and the multi-purpose hall located on this floor can be flexibly used for either extending the lobby or organising separate events.
Oodi is a place for learning and doing things. On the second floor, city residents can get creative in the top-class workshop and studio facilities. At the Urban Workshop on the second floor, you can create new things and personalise old ones. A broad range of tools is available for anyone to use, ranging from 3D printer to overlocker, from laser cutter to label printer. The second floor also hosts the state-of-the-art studios for playing music, recording, filming and editing. There are also rooms dedicated for studying and working.
Book Heaven on the third floor of Oodi fuses the traditional library mood and modern library services. The third floor invites everyone to read, learn and relax. There are 100,000 items available to borrow, a café and nine living trees. The children’s section offers the opportunity to get carried away by stories and imagination. The Citizens’ Balcony facing Parliament House is a great place to admire the Töölönlahti Park and city centre in the summertime.
The new central library breaks the boundaries of silence.
Oodi is also a house of partnership. The Kino Regina cinema of the National Audiovisual Institute, Playground Loru, Helsinki-Info, Brygga participatory facility of the Urban Environment Division and EU@Oodi offering EU information all serve customers under one roof. The café and restaurant services available on the first and third floor are provided by Fazer. Operations are planned in close cooperation with the Töölönlahti area neighbours, i.e. the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall and Sanoma House.
Oodi was a project for the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. Therefore, it can be seen as a gift from the State and City of Helsinki to 100-year-old Finland. The doors were opened to the public for the first time on the eve of the Independence Day 5 December 2017.
ALA Architects is responsible for Oodi’s architectural planning, and YIT is the building contractor. The open international architectural competition published in January 2012 received 544 entries from all over the world. Six entries were selected for the second round of the competition in November 2012, and ALA Architects was declared the winner with their entry Käännös in June 2013. The building features several original and unique solutions that require special expertise from the building contractor, such as the two steel arches that support the building.
Oodi has been designed by listening to and engaging its users so that it would match city residents’ hopes and needs in the best possible manner. In 2012, hundreds of library dreams of residents were collected, and with the help of participatory budgeting city residents were able to allocate funds to the development projects of the Central Library. Over the years, various customer panels and development communities have shared their input as users in Oodi’s design process. Future users have had their say, for example, in the choice of Oodi’s seats and the collection of magazines and journals. The name of the library, too, was selected through an open name competition.
For bibliophiles, students, academics and researchers elsewhere, the very idea of such a library seems like book lover's heaven.