Tag Archives: architecture

The new Helsinki central library features strong Nordic elements, and follows global trends

2017-12-24

When new libraries are designed, especially in large cities across the world it is remarkable how similar concepts are features in the design: large open spaces, areas where visitors can relax with or without books, cafes, music rooms, in other words a place that invites residents to be together. Finland’s capital Helsinki will get a new central library in December 2018, and the design features these contemporary concepts, but also strong Nordic flavors in its architecture.

Helsinki central library, Image by ALA architects
The new central library is being constructed in the heart of Helsinki, in a prestigious location next to the Parliament House, the central railway station, and other key buildings. A fairly large space in the city center was recently vacated from railway use (old maintenance and repair halls were moved away from the city center), and a number of modern buildings have been, or will be built into this space.

The new library is one of these modern buildings that will be closely inspected by all residents of Finland as well as by all travelers who visit the capital.

Here is a description of the library from the architects:

The key concept of the design is the interplay between the building’s three floors. The public plaza in front of the building continues inside, merging with the public spaces of the ground floor. This busy, constantly updated floor with a multipurpose hall, a restaurant and a movie theater, is suitable for quick visits and walkthroughs. The traditional serene library atmosphere can be found on the top floor—a calm area floating above the busy city center, offering unobstructed views to the surrounding cityscape.

The video below shows you around the virtual building (the real building will be ready in December 2018).

The architects who designed the Helsinki Library represent ALA, an architect firm based in Helsinki. ALA is run by its founders Grönholm, Nousjoki and Woolston, and employs 36 architects, interior designers, students and staff members, representing 12 nationalities.

If you are planning to visit Helsinki, take a look at a travel guide that shows you the best sights, neighborhoods, things to do, and events in the city.

Via The Journal of the American Institute of Architects.

The new library in Tianjin, China is simply amazing

2017-11-18

Public buildings, and in our era, especially libraries often have a significant role in positioning a community or an entire nation to the world. Looking at the images of the recently opened (October 2017) library in the city of Tianjin in China, the wow-effect is instant. The new library is simply something you can’t take your eyes off of.

Tianjin Binhai library designed by Dutch architects MVRDV
Tianjin is a metropolis on the coast about 100 km from Beijing. Dutch architect firm MVRDV designed the amazing library in cooperation with Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI). The new library has 1.2 million books on its shelves, ready to be loaned. The size of the building is 33,700 m2.

The architects of MVRDV describe the building as a cultural centre with a spherical auditorium. The bookcases that cascade from floor to ceiling make it an educational centre, and also social space.

The five-level building also has educational facilities along the edges of the interior and accessible through the main atrium space. Subterranean service spaces, book storage, and a large archive are working spaces for the employees. Reading areas for children and the elderly, and the auditorium are on the ground floor. The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books and lounge areas. Upper floors have meeting rooms, offices, computer and audio rooms and two rooftop patios.

The building project was completed in three years, which can be regarded as some kind of miracle for such a complex building. The fast construction schedule came with some sacrifices, though. For instance, the bookshelves located high up in the library don’t have books, but plates that look like books. The reason for this is that there wasn’t time to build public access to the bookshelves at the top.

View the video of the library filmed by New China TV:

Looking at the images of the Tianjin Binhai library also makes one think. What is the meaning of the new library? Perhaps one of its missions is to tell us that today, China is one of the most powerful nations in the world that has the wealth and the will to show that the society values education, culture and books.

The following photos by MVRDV.

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

New application for E ink displays used in ereaders: art and architecture

2017-10-18

We are so used to the grayscale E ink displays in our ereaders that we rarely think about how peculiar the technology really is. The information displayed on E ink screens are not composed of light, but physical microcapsules that rotate to create patterns on the screen. The patterns, or information, on the screen remain there until an electric pulse changes the patterns. This is why E ink screens are energy efficient and easily viewable even in direct sunlight.

You probably have seen small E ink displays in stores where product prices or other information is updated in real time. Displays can be tiny price tags or large boards.
San Diego car park with E ink walls
In any case, commercial applications are not the only ones where E ink can be used. In San Diego, California, these displays are used for decorating a concrete car park building.

View the video below that shows how it looks like.

Very thin e-paper tiles have been attached to the outer walls of the car park building. These screens are wirelessly connected to a host computer that tells the screens what to do. Uebercall, the company behind concept, has designed 15 programs used to animate the tiles. The screens are powered by solar cells.

All this means that the animations can be seen during the daytime only when the screens have power and there is daylight for viewing the screens.

I wonder if it would be possible to create an effect that looks like the building was moving as you drive by? It would, of course, freak out the drivers on the highway next to the building, which wouldn’t be safe.

Via VentureBeat.

16 most beautiful bookstores across the world

2015-06-26

We all like to shop at online bookstores for convenience, selection and prices, but there are (at least) two things that still draw customers to bricks and mortar bookstores: helpful personnel and architecture of the building where the bookstore is located. Old cathedrals have been converted to stores in some parts of the world, and legendary architects have designed stores in other parts of the world.

Svenska Dagbladet, a popular Swedish daily newspaper, compiled a list of 15 most beautiful bookstores in the world. They all are exceptional, and worth a visit even if you are not planning to buy a book.

The curious thing about the article in Svenska Dagbladet was readers’ comments on the list of 15 most beautiful bookstores. The big favorite among readers was Akateeminen bookstore located in the city center of Helsinki, Finland. It was not mentioned in the article. The current Akateeminen store was designed by Alvar Aalto, and opened in 1969.

akateeminen bookstore, Helsinki
akateeminen bookstore, Helsinki
Akateeminen bookstore in Helsinki.

Take a look at 15 other beautiful bookstores as selected by Svenska Dagbladet.

bookstore livraria in Porto, Portugal, foto by alamy
Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto. Photo by Alamy.