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OODI LIBRARY, HELSINKI


13


MANUFACTURED IN THE UK


© Tuomas Uusheimo


The ground floor has very little vertical structure, and is column free both inside and out


A fluid exterior


When facing the library’s large glass entrance, timber cladding appears to grow out of the ground from either side of the glazing, stretching over the second floor and above visitors’ heads to a cantilevered balcony. Above this warping timber-clad wall sits the porous box of the third floor.


Antti explores why this fluid shape was chosen: “We had to follow the existing masterplan, which dictated how the volume sits in relation to the other buildings in the area. We tried to leave the geometry of the surrounding cityscape somewhat behind us, however.” He continues: “What we needed to do then was to break out of that box as much as we legally could, so the building twists out of the given box shape and cantilevers out of the given footprint, without touching the ground outside the masterplan limit.” Taking a step back from this glazed entranceway and out from underneath the shade of the balcony, visitors can take a look at the whole building from its western side. From this angle, each of the library’s three levels are visually defined thanks to the varying material palette – the open glass elements of the bottom floor, the timber-clad middle floor, and the expansive glazing of the rectilinear box on the third floor, the proportions of all of which shift with the building’s flowing shape.


The middle volume was one of the more complex elements, not just because of the significant process of getting the fire and weatherproofing of the light finished birch wood cladding approved, but also due to the interesting structural properties of the steel framing underneath. Antti explains: “The second floor acts as a kind of double arched bridge, with the third floor built up on top of this. Because of this, the ground floor has very little vertical structure, and is column free, both inside and out.” Looking above the bridge and the glazed structure atop it, the roof is supported by steel columns and beams, and within the beams are timber infill elements. Utilising steel across the roof, the accumulation of its intended patina is already visible, the ‘wear and tear’ upon which “makes it look even more beautiful,” says the architect.


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