Heart of Nikkilä
The campus library was built for the new main building of the University of Helsinki Viikki Campus. The vast Science Library forms a significant part of the building, and it also houses the departmental libraries as well as the local branch of the Helsinki City Library. Apart from that, the building consists of administrative offices and main teaching facilities and assembly rooms of the campus. The co-existence of the Science Library and the public library provides opportunities for cooperation between the two and expand the user base of the building, thus creating a link between the university campus and the surrounding residential area: a meeting place for students and the local community.
The project began in 1996 with an invited competition. The name of the building, Korona, stems from the pseudonym of the winning entry. The name is a reference to the principal design idea behind the curved façade, a central feature in both the competition entry and the final design.
The ’conservatory wall’ and its changing lighting give the building a strong identity during both day and night. Varying transparency of the glazed circumference and the rich-colour and rough texture of the back wall create an interplay that brings the façade to life.
The interior spaces are organised around high, top-lit ’streets’ that lead from the entrance hall – piazza at the heart of the building, towards the gardens, or ’parks’ as they may be called. The corridors delineate the book stack space by opening up vertical and horizontal vistas across the building. The curved blue wall, as well as the auditorium, teamwork facility and office masses, lined with shuttering plywood, have been separated as independent elements. Together with the steel balustrades and staircases, they establish the ambient colours and materials of the interior.
A rectilinear area has been cut off the south-west quarter of the cylindrical building to form a square. The square links the contrasting geometry of the building to its context and creates a central public space of the campus area. The square is paved with concrete pavers and a grid of cobblestones that delineates the surface. The hardness of concrete is softened with grass sown in the paver joints, bringing the greenness of the surrounding lawns in the square.
Text: Finnish Architectural Review 6/1999