mahabis architecture // the seinäjoki library in finland
A good library should be quiet, tranquil and relaxing; the perfect place to settle down in privacy with the company of a good book. Seinäjoki library in Finland has been designed with relaxation and privacy in mind. The defining features of the library’s interior are its carpeted private pods, providing secluded retreats for visitors to sit back in comfort and immerse themselves in what they are reading.
Shortlisted for the first Finlandia architecture prize, the strikingly contemporary structure was built in 2013 to complement the existing smaller building that stands beside it. Finnish architect, Alva Aalto created an angular design that makes a bold statement on the horizon. Large windows and skylights allow natural light to flood into the library, creating the perfect juxtaposition with the raw concrete walls.
Inside, the concrete ceiling slopes at angles that differentiate each unique space. In the centre, a staircase descends below ground level to an informal seating area that also functions as an auditorium for performances and lectures. A quiet study space resembles a Finnish sauna, with wood-clad walls and ceiling. An underground tunnel joins the new building with the older structure beside in, linking the two together.
The individual reading pods are dotted around the walls of the building; some of them large enough for two people to sit facing each other, others linked with small tunnels, and some just the right size for one adult to perch inside.
This informality of putting your feet up and lying back in comfort is something that perhaps isn’t usually associated with libraries, traditionally seen as uptight spaces filled with pursed-lipped librarians.
Seinäjoki is contemporary in both its design and its outlook; libraries should be perceived as places where visitors feel relaxed enough to sit back, relax and unwind.