Alvar Aalto - Finland
University of Technology Main Library
Otakaari, Otaniemi (Helsinki)
1964 - 1970


  When the compilation of the room programme for the University of Technology Main Library started in 1961, it became clear that the volume of this building had to be considerably expanded in comparison with the proposal in the town plan competition. Alvar Aalto's competition entry inteded to locate the library south of the main building, at the edge of a green area. An administration building was then intended to be located to the southwest of the library, creating a public square between them. As a consequnece of the grown room programme the site reserved for the mentioned administration building had to be transferred to the library. The first drafts by Alvar Aalto for this library date from May 1964. These had to be reworked several times and were then approved in April 1966. The construction of the building got under way in January 1968 and the library was taken into use two years later in January 1970.

The circulation for the public spaces of this library are strongly related to the urban plan. There are entrances from the south-west (street side) and from the north-west (green area side). This layout takes into account the original intention to separate car and pedestrian traffic. From the entrance lobby on the ground floor stairs are leading up to the reading and lending spaces on the first floor. This is the main space of the library, and Alvar Aalto tried to remove all disturbing factors, both visual and auditory, as much as possible. Glaring daylight was avoided by positioning the windows above eye height. This measure at the same time helped to prevent disturbance by sound from the exterior. The spaces most exposed to the noise were completely windowless towards the street, resulting in a plain and austere fašade. In the centre of the reading and lending hall is located the lending desk, which had to be passed by the users on entrance and on leaving.