Home / ArchitectureHelsinki’s Oodi Library Serves as a Giant Symbol of Finland’s Highest Global Literacy Rate

Helsinki’s Oodi Library Serves as a Giant Symbol of Finland’s Highest Global Literacy Rate

Oodi Civic Library in Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from fujilovers/Shutterstock

More than just a place to check out books, Helsinki’s Oodi Library is a symbol of national pride in a country that boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Designed by celebrated Finnish architecture firm ALA, the library stands prominently in the center of Helsinki. By facing the Finnish parliament building, Oodi is a constant reminder of what the country has accomplished. As a gathering place for the entire community, the library acts as a bridge between education and the general population.

Since the 1920s, libraries have had an important place in Finnish culture and today nearly half the population uses a public library at least once a month. This is owed to the revolutionary Finnish Library Act, which helps actively promote lifelong learning and gives libraries a fundamental role in society. The sprawling 17,250-square-meter (185,677-square-foot) Oodi, which opened in 2018, was designed to help usher in a new age of Finnish libraries and push the boundaries of their mission.

To that end, books only fill one-third of the massive building. Packed with innovations, the civic library includes a recording studio, makers space, movie theater, restaurant, café, and public balcony. In this way, the library becomes a well-rounded cultural hub that reaches far beyond simply borrowing a book.

The architects divided the building into clearly defined levels, with the ground floor acting as a public space that is an extension of the exterior. The upper floor is known as book heaven and includes a peaceful open-space reading room. Here visitors will find a tranquil place to nestle up with their favorite piece of literature. In between the upper and lower floors, spaces for additional services are accommodated across what the architects refer to as an “inhabited bridge” formed from steel that spans over 100 meters. This makes for a stunning effect, as the design does not require columns and thus provides striking views across the length of the space.

Built using local materials, the facade is clad with Finnish spruce and curves in a manner that provides shelter when public events occur in front of the library. The stunning, modernist look of the building is both an homage to Finland’s past and a look to the future of what libraries can—and should—be. And in taking on this challenge, the library asks its citizens to rise up and continue to move forward with the neverending quest for education. As Finland’s executive director for culture and leisure Tommi Laitio recently said, “You can be your best person inside this building.”

Helsinki’s Oodi library is a cutting-edge cultural facility that symbolizes Finland’s relationship with education and literacy.

Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Interior of Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Stairwell at Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

The sprawling building is clad with locally sourced Finnish spruce.

Oodi Civic Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from watermelontart/Shutterstock

The interior is a dynamic open space that houses books, as well as a recording studio, makers space, and restaurant.

Book Heaven at Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Interior of Finland's Oodi Library

Photo: Stock Photos from Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

The design involves the entire community and challenges the perceptions of what a library can be.

Interior of the Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock

People Reading at the Oodi Library Helsinki

Photo: Stock Photos from Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

h/t: [Arch Daily]

Related Articles:

Architecture Firm Transforms Unused Space into Vibrant Children’s Library

Take a Virtual Tour of Every Inch of the New York Public Library’s Incredible Interior

Beautiful Library at Oxford University Is One of Europe’s Oldest Reading Rooms

Secret Library Hidden in the Woods Is Every Bibliophile’s Dream Come True

Want to become a My Modern Met Member?

Find out how by becoming a Patron. Check out the exclusive rewards, here.

Sponsored Content