Topic outline

  • The Public Library and Finnish Architecture

    In spring 2019, Theory of Architecture 2 explores architectural thinking expressed in modern public libraries in Finland. We’ll study some architecturally esteemed library examples and discuss them on the basis of students’ analyses and presentations. We’ll also read and discuss a selection of theoretical literature on modern architecture and library design and approach our topic through some writings by the architects and their contemporaries.

    The course is a seminar-like series of class meetings where we will study and discuss our interpretations of the course literature as well as the architectural examples. The coursework entails 3 elements: READING, ANALYSIS and PRESENTATION.

    READING: for each class, you will read 2-3 texts that relate to the course topic and write a short summary of your interpretation of the texts (recommended length c. 600 words / 2-3 pages).

    ANALYSIS: you will visit 5 libraries (see the list below) and analyse their architectural and functional aspects, contribution to the library typology and contemporary architecture as well as your own architectural experience on site. 

    PRESENTATION: you will prepare a short (c.  5 slides / 10 minutes) presentation of each of your library analyses (5 presentations in total) for the class; please feel free include video and/or any other visual material besides photographs.

    The Libraries

    Group excursion 3.4.2019 at 10:00 (optional)

    • National Pensions Institute Library [Kansaneläkelaitoksen kirjasto] Alvar Aalto 1948/1956

    For reference, choose 1

    • Rikhardinkatu Library, Theodor Höijer 1881
    • Kallio Library, Karl Hård af Segerstad 1914

    Choose 4. Please enroll yourself in the relevant library groups available on The Library Analyses page, helps course management.

    • Töölö Library, Aarne Ervi 1970
    • Pasila Library, Kaarlo Leppänen 1986
    • Tapiola Library (in Espoo Cultural Centre), Arto Sipinen 1989
    • Vallila Library, Juha Leiviskä and Asta Björklund 1990 
    • Vuosaari Library in Vuotalo, Heikkinen & Komonen 2001
    • Sello Library, Helin & Co 2003
    • Maunula Library in Maunula House, K2S Architects 2017
    • Helsinki Central Library Oodi, ALA Architects 2013/2018
    The course libraries on Google Map: