As a book lover, I look forward to discover the temporary library space at the Finnish pavilion. The exhibition will explore the development of Finnish library architecture and show Finland’s leading role in developing the libraries of the future.
Finland was named the world’s most literate nation in 2016. The population of 5.5 million people borrows close to 68 million books a year, hence Finns are amongst the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries. The first building in Finland designed specifically for library use is the Rikhardinkatu public library from 1881. The latest example is Oodi, the Helsinki Central Library designed by ALA Architects, which is planned to open at the end of this year.
Oodi will extend the public square flanked by Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and Helsinki Music Centre into an interior space open for all, every day of the week. The wood-covered frontal façade turns into a large canopy giving shelter to public events and gatherings. The building itself is divided in three functionally different floors with spaces for encounters and dialogue on ground level, learning and DIY activities on the first floor and peaceful immersion in books on the top floor. The architecturally strong identity will place Oodi among the landmark buildings of Helsinki.
The exhibition in Venice will showcase Finnish libraries through a thematic selection of architectural designs, objects and specially commissioned sound and video work. If you love to visit libraries in Venice while you’re visiting the Architecture Biennale, you can find some inspiration in my post ‘7 authentic libraries that will amaze you in Venice‘.
Anni Vartola holds a D.Sc. (Architecture) degree in architecture theory and has a background in architectural design as a founding partner of Arkkitehtitoimisto Vartola & Viljamaa. Since 2010, she focused on architecture criticism, research, and architectural education. In 2016, she started a company Bookmarchitecture Ltd for selling used architecture books and other merchandise. She works as the senior lecturer at the Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Architecture. Her field of expertise is in architecture theory with special interests in postmodern thought and contemporary architecture.
“Our response to the theme of ‘Freespace’ is to explore the potential within the Finnish public library of the 21st century to create a ‘popular monument’: a noncommercial public space which is open for everyone, free for everyone, belonging to everyone and used for everyone’s benefit.”
Dr Anni Vartola, curator
The small pavilion of Finland is located in Giardini and dates from 1956. The design by Alvar Aalto refers to a Lapp tent. It was intended to be a temporary pavilion, which could be stowed away after the exhibition. The irregular polygon is made of lightweight wooden components and forms a sort of enclosed patio. It was used by Finland until the common pavilion of the Nordic countries was completed in 1962. However, after a thorough restoration in 1976 by Fredrik Fogh and the use by Portugal and Iceland, Finland returned to its own pavilion.
If you want to know more about the Architecture Biennale 2018 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Architecture Biennale 2018‘ or have a look at this overview page which links to all the articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: The children’s area on the top floor of the Helsinki Central Library © ALA Architects)
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