Helsinki Court of Appeal
Porvoo is a small town, founded in the 13th century and built around its church, in its old part, traces of the medieval street network are still visible. The closely-built urban structure extends from the bank of the Porvoo River to the site of the library. The building forms part of the north-east edge of this area. Behind the library site, the street co-ordinates change, the buildings are newer, and the townscape is more open.
The basic volume of the library is rectangle, which rests within the co-ordinates of Empire-style Porvoo, and extends over the width of the portico of the façing office building. The building attempts to entice the passer-by to drop in. The accommodation of the library is articulated around an intersection of two pedestrian routes and aims to create the intimate street atmosphere characteristic of old Porvoo. The transverse pedestrian route is carried through the building outdoors. The various departments can be supervised from the loan office.
The café, music department, reading rooms, and researchers workrooms form independent functional components, with opening hours that are not dependent on the other activities in the building, which is also reflected in the floor plan. The café-reading room opens out in a sunny direction. The children’s department, exhibition area, and reading rooms are linked to a route used by school-children, to attract also occasional library users.
The view from the lending hall opens in the direction of the town’s main street. Traffic noise is attenuated by a small park lying between the building and the street. The study room is linked to a peaceful green area at the northern end of the building.
The façades each have a special character and task in the townscape. The belly side on the west encloses café and music department as its own building. To the east, the building straightens its back. The façade materials are laminated board and larch boards. Timber is a natural façade material in Porvoo. It is particularly used in the east side of the building, which is the preferred direction, in terms of the preservation of the timber cladding. Larch louvers protect the lending department and the reading room from the sun. They also act as a pergola for trailing plants.
Porvoo City Library was designed by Tuomo Siitonen and Irma Verhe (Tuomo Siitonen Architects).
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 4/2000