CLIENT: CITY OF HELSINKI
PLOT: THE KAMPPI-TÖÖLÖNLAHTI AREA.
TEAM: Ainhoa del Río, Olatz Iñigo, revirtualiza
A library is a physical space where citizens appropriate information which comes from many different sources taking on mutating forms.
This information can be physical in appearance or, on the other hand, be immaterial content.
At present, given the free, ubiquitous and individualized general access to information, a library should offer, aside from access to information, activities and specialist support leading to collective cultural synergies and the personal enrichment of citizens.
At a time when knowledge comes from both material and spiritual sources; from both physical objects and digital media, from both books and from bytes, this increasingly prevailing duality is creating partitions between generations and people of different levels of education, which are often impossible to overcome.
The library is the last space where access is still allowed and where information can be obtained for free. However, it has neither the character of a public space nor does it have the restrictions which characterize private space. For this reason it is classified as what is known as a Third Place.
In a library, there is no commercial gain to be made from knowledge transfer. It is a facility which aims to culturally and disinterestedly educate and perfect citizens.
By learning and education, the library manages to lift the human spirit and improve our understanding of the world we live in. The process of absorbing ideas and concepts may therefore be linked to an upward movement, from an earthly level up to the highest planes of knowledge, in a vertical path from bottom to top.
Verticality is linked to the concept of the Monolith, the appearance of which led to a leap forward in evolution. This upright form clearly demonstrates its urban superiority and its distinguished presence is made tangible by its volumetric abstraction. The Monolith is a “machine” of perfect geometry created by a higher intelligence which appears in different locations marking out key moments in human evolution and which represents the indestructible capacity of knowledge concentrated in a perfect prism with contoured edges.
Libraries should proudly show cities the importance of their mission, their social responsibility and their value in the community. They should become the new lighthouses, the new bell towers of contemporary culture.
The advisory work performed by librarians and specialist staff becomes the guide-lines of a lighthouse which throws light on the overwhelming knowledge base.
Helsinki Central Library has broken its contents in two and has condemned the material world and the digital universe to live on separate planets. The new and old content show their strengths in differentiated ways and they are present in the urban scene through their striking silhouettes.