Architectural competition

The architectural competition for the Helsinki Central Library ended on 14 June 2013. The entry “Käännös” was chosen as the winner. No second prize was awarded. Out of the 544 competition entries, the entries “Liblab” and “Kasi” shared third place. In addition, honourable mentions were awarded to five entries. 

The competition was a two-stage open international architectural competition. The first stage of the competition was held from 5 January 2012 to 16 March 2012. Six competition entries were included in the second stage in November 2012, from which the jury chose the ALA Architects’ entry “Käännös” as the winner. The winner was announced in the Helsinki Music Centre on 14 June 2013.

The jury characterised “Käännös” as memorable and executed with relaxed, broad strokes: the winning entry provides an excellent starting point for developing new kinds of functions in the library. In addition, the jury emphasised that the building has a unique appeal, which gives it the prerequisites to become a new monument that the residents of Helsinki, library users, and the personnel can adopt as their own.

The jury’s decision was unanimous. The jury report states: “An unusually fine, modern urban space on a global scale is in the process of being created in Helsinki, a space demarcated by architecturally high-quality buildings. Completing the east side of the public square is now a task that befalls the library building.”

An architecturally stunning, eco-efficient modern wooden building for the city centre

In the assessment of the competition entries, particular attention was paid to how well the building was suited to the valuable location and the city structure in addition to the architecture. Important assessment criteria also included the building’s usability, ecological sustainability and feasibility.

“The eco-efficiency requirements were particularly high in the Heart of the Metropolis Architectural Competition,” said Deputy Mayor Ritva Viljanen, who acted as the Chairperson of the competition jury. In addition, the building’s architecture should be timeless and should match the location opposite the Parliament Building.

“The Central Library will complement the magnificent entity created by the cultural buildings in Töölönlahti, and introduce to the area an as yet missing form of art – literary art and literature,” Viljanen states emphatically.

More information about the architectural competition and images of the entries that received an award:

The competition was a part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 programme.