Helsinki Central Library Open International Architectural Competition


The Heart of the Metropolis – the City of Helsinki’s two-stage open international architectural competition for the design of the Helsinki Central Library has been resolved.

The competition jury unanimously decided that the winner is ALA Architects’ entry “Käännös”.

In the jury report, the competition jury characterised the winning entry as follows: “The architecture of the proposal is of a very high quality, executed with relaxed, broad strokes, and memorable. The proposal provides excellent premises for the development of a completely new functional concept for the library. The building has a unique appeal and the prerequisites to become the new symbolic building which Helsinki residents, library users, as well as the staff will readily adopt as their own.”

No Second Prize was awarded.

Shared Third Prize was awarded to the entries ”Liblab” by Playa Architects and “Kasi” by Verstas Architects.

Of the six entries selected for Stage 2 of the competition, an Honourable Mention was awarded to the entry ” The Heartbeat of Helsinki” by Henning Larsen Architects.

Additionally, the jury decided to award Honourable Mentions to four entries from Stage 1: ”Through the Looking Glass” by Mars architectes , ”Illuminatio” by TARKA Architectural Studio, “Cultural Incubator” by Monica Ponce de Leon, and ”Helsinki Link” by Matthew Jull and Leena Cho.


Category Project Competition / Competition Result
Type International, Project, Open, Two-Stage, Anonymous
Genre Library
Country Helsinki
RegDeadline 30 March 2012 GoogleCal iCal
16 April 2012 GoogleCal
Eligibility A person, named as the design team leader, who in the country where he or she qualified or in the country where he or she practices the profession has the right to practice as an architect.

The building will be an energy-efficient, nearly zero-energy building. In the choice of materials and structural solutions the aim is for material efficiency.

The building’s room programme area is 10,000 m2. Based on a project feasibility design, the estimated building costs for the project are 69,9 million € (0% VAT) [period 2/2010, Tender Price Index (THI) = 146,0]. The goal is for the building to be completed in 2017, and it will be a project marking the centenary of Finland’s independence.

The competition looks for a design solution for the Central Library building that:
− responds to the challenges set by the cityscape-wise unique location, and adjusts to the urban fabric and blocks of the Töölönlahti area.
− is high quality and timeless architecture.
− forms a symbolic and architecturally significant building that resonates with society as a whole and expresses the operational concepts of the building in an intriguing way.
− offers a functionally high-quality and technically and spatially flexible framework for cutting-edge and adaptable library operations.
− is eco-efficient.
− is technically and economically feasible.

The purpose of the competition is to act as a selection procedure in the procurement of a designer for the building (architectural design and expert in energy technology).

City of Helsinki representatives:
Tuula Haatainen, Deputy mayor (Chairperson)
Maija Berndtson, Library director, Helsinki City Library
Tuomas Rajajärvi, Head of Helsinki City Planning Department
Irmeli Grundström, Project head, City of Helsinki Real Estate Department
Jarek Kurnitski, Chief researcher, Sitra Energy Programme
Tuuli Mattelmäki, PhD, Senior researcher, Industrial design, Aalto University (service design expert)
Mauri Ylä-Kotola, PhD, Rector/Professor University of Lapland

Ministry of Education and Culture representative:
− Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General

Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) nominated representatives:
− Käpy Paavilainen, architect SAFA
− Vesa Oiva, architect SAFA

1st Prize: 50.000 €
2nd Prize: 37.500 €
3rd Prize: 25.000 €

Entry Fee

Results: Spring 2013

The City of Helsinki

Official Website