The Helsinki University of Technology Main Library was completed in 1970 to complement the campus complex designed by Alvar Aalto. In 2016, the upper floors of the library were restored and a new learning centre was opened in the former book depository spaces in the basement. The architects in charge of the project were Teemu Tuomi and Tuomo Remes of NRT Architects and the interior design is by Päivi Meuronen of JKMM Architects. The renovation was awarded the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2017.
Extracts from the pre-selection jury statement:
The architectural core of the Otaniemi campus by Alvar Aalto consists of a scenic space flanked by red brick buildings. The flowing spaces of the library interior with its rich details beautifully illuminated from above represent easily recognisable Aalto architecture.
With the establishment of Aalto University, steps were taken to develop the campus buildings with a view to future uses. The library building has been renovated and renamed Harald Herlin Learning Centre. The exterior was left intact, as were the library halls with their fixtures and details. The functional changes necessitated by advanced library services have been carried out with due regard to the original concept while retaining the option to revert to the original design. A new learning centre open to public was built on the floors originally reserved for a book depository. Its architectural solutions with bare, partly dismantled frame structures and modern interiors add a fresh contemporary touch to the familiar surroundings.
Harald Herlin Learning Centre was presented at ‘Mind-Building’, Finland’s exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2018 under the chapter ‘Soft Fulcrum’.