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Arup Supports ALA Win Helsinki Central Library Competition

Arup ALA Helsinki Library

ALA Architects, a Helsinki-based architectural firm supported by Arup Ireland, was announced as the winner of the international design competition for the much talked about Helsinki Central Library. They have introduced a new benchmark for energy consumption in a modern high-technology library facility. For more images as well as the architects’ description continue below:

Arup ALA Helsinki Library
About the Project:

The 16,000m2 library building will consist almost entirely of public spaces and will serve as the new focal point for the city and Finland’s impressive public library network. It has been estimated that the library will attract 5,000 visitors per day and 1.5 million visitors per year.

Selected out of 544 entries from all over the world, Arup was responsible for a full range of engineering services including energy efficiency, sustainability, structural, mechanical, electrical, façade and fire engineering to arrive at a totally integrated, sustainably conscious solution for the building.

Arup’s team in Dublin worked closely with the architects to realise the challenging energy efficiency target of the competition brief. Arup also developed sustainable solutions for the building and integrated sophisticated structural solutions to carry out the architectural expression of the competition proposal. The energy target for the project is equivalent to 120kWh/m2 per annum, which represents a new benchmark for energy consumption in a modern high-technology library facility.

Arup ALA Helsinki Library

Spaces designed to be used

The winning entry, entitled “Käännös”, is based on the idea of dividing the functions of the library into three distinctive levels: an active ground floor, a calm upper floor, and an enclosed in-between volume containing the more specific functions. This concept has been developed into an arching form that invites people to utilize the spaces and services.

The building links indoor and outdoor spaces. The busy ground floor is complemented by a calm, contemplative upper floor with unobstructed, majestic views of the city and the Finnish Parliament House.

Detailed analysis and modelling of the building geometry and environmental loads has allowed optimisation of the engineering systems and façade which in turn facilitates the highly flexible architectural solution.

The high performance façade combined with the low energy mixed-mode systems allows the natural ventilation of the building, whilst maintaining comfortable internal environmental conditions year round.

“The Architectural concept has required us to develop an economic structural solution combining a 3D arched element in combination with more conventional building solutions. The project includes a large column free foyer area at ground level, 27m cantilever balcony at second floor level, a ‘floating cloud’ roof structure and the provision for a future tunnel to be built beneath the building.” – Paul Dunne, Director, Arup

The Central Library is planned to open in 2017 which will be the centenary year of Finland’s independence.

Arup ALA Helsinki Library
Project: Winning Proposal – Helsinki Central Library
Designed by ALA Architects, Arup
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Website: &

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