The site of the proposed National Library of Finland sits on a former railway siding and industrial structures, in the heart of Helsinki at the southern end of the emerging Toolonlahti masterplan, which is a bold move to extend the area, characterised by lakes and waterways, into the heart of the city.


Canaway Fleming’s design comprised the integration of a new, state-of-the-art, national library building into an ensemble of robust and well-crafted cultural and historic buildings including the Parliament Building, the Music Hall and Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall. The new library is a prominent centre of knowledge linked to adjoining cultural facilities both above and below ground. The proposed library is oriented north-south to provide a bold back drop to Citizen’s Square from the Parliament building thus providing a ‘knowledge’ focus for the emerging masterplan. Libraries are the most well used public buildings in Finland.


The building’s linear form and materiality are derived from the industrial heritage of the site and as a response to the harsh climate and potential for the use of sunlight as a source of renewable energy. The external cladding is weathering steel that produces a mottled brown and red colouration which sits in harmony with the colours of the site during the shorter summer months but provides a stark contrast to the winter snows that prevail at other times.






Helsinki Central Library

Helsinki, Finland