Vaasa City Library
The building was designed for the Urban Environment Division of the City of Helsinki. It combines new building technology with references to the history of architecture – the designers aimed for the building to appear modern and archaic at the same time. The building is characterised by the rough materiality of brick, concrete, wood and copper, and the rooftop terraces with their distinct pavilions.
The main facades open towards a new public square in the centre of the block and a pedestrian street. Up to two-story-high brick arches and an arcade, which continues all the way to the main lobby, connect the street space and the interior and communicate about the public nature of the ground floor. Varied mortar joint styles and the use of wood, concrete and copper in details give character to the different parts of the building.
The spaces in the Urban Environment House consist of activity-based work environments and public spaces that invite citizens to utilize city services. The building is mainly used by officials of the built environment. According to the designers, from the point of view of sustainable development, it is essential that a building serves its purpose well into the future and suits different kinds of uses during its life cycle with only minor modifications.
The interiors are a diverse mixture of spaces, where, for example, openings connecting the floors, auditorium-style staircases, and street-like passageways have replaced conventional isolated floors and lobbies that pierce the whole building. Efficient workspaces are the result of combining a deep building frame with higher-than-usual floor height and large windows, which allows daylight far into the building.
The rooftop terraces with pavilions for work and relaxation add to the character of the building. Each terrace is different, which is reflected in the vegetation and the shapes and materials of the pavilions.
In terms of energy efficiency, the Urban Environment House is nearly a zero-energy building. A 5,000-square-meter green roof with more than 22,000 plants, such as herbs and shrubs and decaying wood for fungi and insects, acts as a laboratory for urban nature, contributes to biodiversity and prevents urban floods by delaying stormwater.