Decades ago, a library stopped being a place to read books — let alone to store them — to become a space in which to activate people. There books – of course – but also light and, above all, discovery play a fundamental role. In Kirkkonummi, near Helsinki, the old reading room – a concrete building dating from the 1980s – has doubled in size and underwent a radical transformation. It has become an unexpected icon. More than surprising from its shape – a large box paneled with copper strips – it does so from the contrast that the interior clarity opposes with the delicate and resounding exterior enclosure.
The city of Kirkkonummi grew up around a medieval church that continues to occupy the center of the village along with the market and the library. Beyond the shops, the three buildings make up the civic space of its 40,000 inhabitants, that is why when at the JKMM study They asked them to remodel the library, they chose to emphasize the union between the pieces: it was necessary to greet the church, and participate in the market, leaving free space. Today, a covered terrace looks out onto the temple from the reading rooms. It is the eye of a building that, lined with bronze like a chest, encloses a space of light, social relationships, discovery and windows to the world.
Beyond books and computers, in the Fyyri Library there are rooms for children, rooms that function as a social club for young people, exhibition rooms and a cafeteria where you can read the center’s newspapers and magazines. All of this is done with light, with lots of light – JKMM’s specialty – with that way that the Nordics have of designing to catch the sun’s rays as the rare commodity they are.
The factors that help to take advantage of the light are: clear spaces —a large reading room free of columns—, the use of white on walls, floors and ceilings, and well-located gaps — skylights and windows — well located. The furniture has been designed — and placed — to complete the architecture, in favor of design. Without spatially interrupting the rooms, this decision not only unites the work of designers and architects, it also consolidates the unity of the building and gives fluidity to the interior space.
Libraries, and museums, have been one of the specialties of this study – with more than 100 architects – since the Turku City Library was completed in 2007. Awaiting the inauguration of the National Museum of Finland, JKMM completed the inspiring Amos Rex Museum two years ago, an exercise in managing light and public space.
Teemu Kurkela founding partner of JKMM sums it up like this: “The fundamental objective of a current library is to bring people together. That is why for Finns they are meeting places.” A Pandora’s box hides this miracle.