Käännös is a multidimensional building

The Central Library architectural competition winner, ALA Architects’ entry Käännös is a memorable, easily approachable building executed with relaxed, broad strokes. The residents of Helsinki have received Käännös well. “One of the most necessary and eagerly awaited facilities in Helsinki,” Tiina describes it. “A great combination of tradition and modernism, looks Finnish, for all Helsinki residents,” Tuomas says.

Wood plays a prominent part

Käännös was designed by Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta, and Samuli Woolston with their work group, in cooperation with the Arup experts. Undulation and a floating quality lay at the heart of its visual aspect. Wood and glass are effectively combined into a mix of the traditional and the modern.

“Käännös operates in the same register as the overall look of the Töölönlahti area but, at the same time, has a dramatic appeal,” Nousjoki characterises it.

A genuinely public space

With Käännös, an exceptionally fine, modern urban space is in the process of being created in Helsinki; the space includes the Parliament Building, the Music Centre, the Finlandia Hall, the Sanoma House, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Central Library. The Central Library will become a building that serves as the focus of the genuinely public space in the Töölönlahti area. It offers a non-commercial urban space open to everyone that gains its significance from the people who move, act and are present there.

Three different floors, three different moods

Käännös provides a good starting point for the development of the library’s new activities and contents. The changes in mood between the three floors of the building are the key to understanding its character.

“We have stressed the inviting, activating and functional nature of the library. We examined the library building idea in terms of the functionality of other buildings in the vicinity. We divided the idea content into three sections: a traditional library, a functional library and a continuation of public space,” says Teräsvirta.

A traditional library involves both material and contents: different kinds of works from books to music and from comics to films, and making them visible and sharing, lending, listening and using them. Functionality means doing things together, experimenting, workshops and events. As a public space, the library finds its place as a part of the Töölönlahti area, and under its roof there will also be a café, restaurant, public balcony, film theatre and sauna facilities.

Active public spaces and event facilities open up visibly and attractively from the first floor. It is a changeable area with a fast tempo with its entrances and service points.

The second floor is a place for working, learning by doing, interaction and being together; the studios, laboratories and the group work, workshop and interaction facilities are located there.

The top floor is a human-centred and human-sized area for restful relaxation and moments of calm – a place where you can escape the busy everyday life under the cloud-like roof and admire the city scenery.  On the top floor, you can find the most elements of a “traditional library” – the library that is close to the heart for so many of us.

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