The undulating shape of Oodi evokes the feeling of a passing cloud. While that image may conjure the feeling of a daydream, this new public library is the opposite, being practical and well thought out. Designed by ALA Architects it sits across the street from the parliament building in Helsinki, Finnland.
Oodi means “ode” in Finnish and the new building is symbolic in several ways. The name represents an “ode to words” which also spiral up the staircase and describe who the library is for. The physical location is a symbol of the important relationship between government and citizens. The location is also significant, being in the cultural district.
It features a modern design that includes a large open space reading room as well as a cafe, restaurant, balcony, movie theater, audio-visual recording studios, and a marketplace! Including the balcony doubled the amount of public outdoor space.
Similar to the Seattle Central Library, Oodi is divided into distinct spaces by floor. The ground floor is the entryway and reception area for the public, at the top is the reading space, and between are rooms used for various services the library provides like the recording studios and marketplace.
The design was seen as a sort of “bridge.” Local materials were used in the construction like the facade which uses spruce.
The reading room on the top floor features an organic white ceiling with rooflights. A 360-degree view of the city center can be seen from there.
Oodi represents a new wave in contemporary building construction. Although its outward appearance may be unusual, behind that is strategic planning and a people-first approach to make it useful and an integrated part of the city. It will be interesting to see if other cities follow this trend.