The Municipality of Vihti organised an open architectural competition on the Vihti Main Library in 1989. The realised building is based on the winning entry ‘Agricola’ by architects Hannu Jaakkola and Tapani Kerttula.
In addition to architectural merit, functionality, flexibility, and economical and practical feasibility, the competition included another essential requirement, that was to find a solution that would introduce a degree of coherence into the unfinished and developing town structure. The library was to provide a visual point of departure for the future development of the surrounding area.
For economic reasons, the project was postponed for several years. Once it was restarted, the plans were revised, and the floor area of the building was reduced by approximately 30%. In view of the final result, this process was a positive one. The design approach became more apparent as the spaces and architectural features became more compact. Construction work was eventually commenced in autumn 1997.
The building is located on a gentle slope and runs parallel to a pedestrian and cycling route. It rises to its full height at the main entrance, which is on one of the main streets of the town.
A three-storey-high glazed mall forms the ‘spine’ of the building. A ramp runs along the whole length of the large mall and links the public spaces to one another. The brightly-lit space is a vertical element that links all the spaces in the building to one another, including the administration facilities on the second floor.
The main hall of the library is a single large volume. On one side space is delimited by the long ramp running along the whole length of the building, while the glazed curtain wall on the opposite side opens onto a landscaped yard. The separation of different areas within the single volume is subtly implied by defining them with changes in floor level.
Facilities for teamwork, the music listening, and children’s storytime area and the cafeteria are located in separate enclosed spaces.
The spatial organisation of the building and configuration of electrical and data transport systems are intended to promote the building’s flexibility.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 5/1999