Acting as a community center that is open to everybody, Oodi now has visits of up to 20,000 visitors a day. In the heart of Helsinki people come to the library to make full use of the Urban Workshop, rentable meeting rooms and enjoy the terrace.
The building is almost entirely made up of public space, offering a wide range of services, most of which are free of charge. The building also features a cafe and restaurant, along with the city’s information center, Helsinki Info, the National Audiovisual Institute’s movie theatre: Kino Regina, and Europa Experience, an EU-related information center.
Remaining open to the surrounding cityscape, the border between the indoor and outdoor areas is removed. Kansalaistori Square continues under the entrance canopy and into the building. Arching over the ground floor, the wooden front facade creates a dramatic bridge-like structure, resulting in a column-free lobby that can host all kinds of events and, where necessary, the multipurpose hall can be made into an extension of the lobby. The bridge structure is made up of steel beams and trusses, supported by two massive steel arches and reinforced concrete slab. By enabling the column-free interior space, there is a possibility for the future construction a road tunnel that crosses underneath the building.
The building is divided into three levels separated by functional needs: an active ground floor, a peaceful upper floor and an enclosed, in-between volume for more specific functions.
The middle floor uses all the spaces between the trusses of the bridge structure to create flexible and enclosed spaces. These spaces accommodate group working areas, recording studios and editing rooms, whilst the Urban Workshop contains 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and sewing machines for the visitors to use.
The top floor introduces features from a more traditional library to the most recent technology. It consists of open space with a cloud-like undulating ceiling to create a serene atmosphere for people to read, relax and learn in. The floor-to-ceiling windows and large terrace offer unobstructed panoramic views of the city.
Office spaces have been kept to a minimum on the public floors, with storage functions remaining at the main library in the Pasila district, in a bid to maximise access of the library. Books can be reserved online, picked up from and returned to any of the 63 public libraries or six ‘bookmobiles’ in the area. Book circulation relies on HelMet, the e-service of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries.
With climate conditions in mind, Oodi was built using local materials. The wooden facades were created from pre-fabricated spruce modules, whilst the curved geometry was designed using algorithm-aided parametric 3D design methods. Meanwhile, the glass facades allow for natural daylight in the public areas; Oodi is nearly at a zero energy level consumption with an estimated lifespan of 150 years.