Puu-Vallila Wooden House District
The first public libraries in Finland were financed by private fund-raising and patrons of the library institution. The library institution served a noble cause and their architecture was to reflect societal aspirations and a solemn belief in education.
Although many of the old library buildings have become obsolete because of their location or rigid spatial arrangements, equally many have been renovated to serve the functional needs of a modern library. Rikhardinkatu Library and Kallio Library in Helsinki are examples of library architecture that has adapted to constant changes without losing the original, affecting atmosphere.
Kallio Library was opened in 1912 in the rapidly growing working-class district of Helsinki. In 2015, it was the first public library in Finland to introduce an LGBTQI bookshelf and a cultural programme for sexual minorities. During the design period of the 2017 renovation by Valvomo Architects, participatory workshops were organised for reorganising the library functions.
The text is from the chapter ‘Hope and Pleasure’ of Mind-Building, Finland’s exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.