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  • Helsinki Public Library

    Robert Stuart-Smith Design ltd., "Helsinki Public Library."
    london UNITED KINGDOM

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Robert Stuart-Smith Design ltd.: This Helsinki Public Library competition entry won a third-place vote by the Finnish public within a public exhibition of over 544 entries.

    The project integrates the surrounding commercial and cultural context of its site via a minimal building volume that encourages extensive public use through its open ground floor and grand park-side pedestrian entry. The building is constructed from locally available renewable timbers and makes use of now under-utilized Finnish timber mills (due to a reduction in paper production). Whilst there will not be much paper housed in the building, the architecture itself continues the presence of Finnish timber for time immemorial. The library spaces are open plan, and utilise a modular furniture system that facilitates ongoing changes to the library organization to be easily explored and implemented without the need for interior refits.

    The project utilised an innovative tectonic principle of a continuous post-tension timber surface that permeates through the building and mediates the organization of spaces, circulation, natural ventilation, and day-lighting. The surface compresses numerous structural principles within one continuous post-tension assemblage that shifts from operating as a self-supporting post-tension compression system to that of a cable-net suspension structure, while also becoming a non-structural suspended ceiling at the top floor and performing as permanent formwork at ground level for two large column bases. The shifting of these tectonic conditions imbue the light timber surface with characteristics unique and intrinsic to its negotiation of space, form and structural force, providing a very expressive yet coherent tectonic to the project.

    The library also incorporates state of the art environmental systems utilizing both passive and active features to ensure a high level of user comfort is provided at minimal environmental and economical cost. The black timber exterior easily conceals an array of black photovoltaic cells and thermal collectors on the rooftop whilst mechanical systems have also been integrated into a low-energy consumption BIM system.

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    Robert Stuart-Smith Design team:
    Robert Stuart-Smith (director), Gilles Retsin, Isaie Bloch, Stella Dourtme, Felipe Escudero

    Environmental Engineering:
    Transsolar: Matthias Schuler (director)

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