The publicness of space in Helsinki libraries: Letting the Outside In and the Inside Out

Tutkimustuotos: Artikkeli kirjassa/konferenssijulkaisussaConference article in proceedingsScientificvertaisarvioitu


Within the public realm of cities and in everyday life practices occur in different interfaces between streets, open public spaces, and internal public spaces. The programming, activities and rhythms of this public canvas could take various forms, which are determined by power relations among diverse stakeholders at specific moment sin time. This research examines the role of libraries in supporting spatial justice, diversity, and inclusion. More specifically, it aims to address the changing role of public libraries in Helsinki, their relation to public spaces, and the extent that their programming enables peaceful, participative, and diverse usage by multicultural and ethnic groups. These public libraries cater for residents within their vicinity, residents from the broader metropolitan area, foreigners, and tourists. The research builds on case studies from Helsinki public libraries, Oodi and Maunula, and their interpretation of publicness between the inside and outside. The research uses qualitative methods to gain insights on perspectives of administrators, professionals involved in their design, and users.Completed in 2018, Oodi is a located in Helsinki city centre, and has an open public space in front of it. This space serves as an urban transformation stitched to a well-integrative landscape combining many central budlings in the city centre. Completed in 2017, Maunula library is a neighbourhood one with an extension of a shopping centre acting as the core attraction in a multi-purpose complex. Maunula library’s design process involved residents living in the neighbourhood, and the integration of public space in the design was highly valued as an extension of the library function outdoors. Both cases have introduced functions and open spaces that serve at their respective capital city centre and capital neighbourhood scales. In designing both libraries, engaging people was essential, and equally the incorporation of socially inclusive functions for learning, leisure, and socialising (Mickiewicz, 2016; Johnson, 2010; Griffis, 2010; Lawson, 2002). What has been less researched is the relation between the inside and outside, the extension of the public canvas and relation to the libraries’ surroundings on the one hand. On the other hand, the invitation to activities usually occurring in open public spaces, into the library either physically or visually. This paper sets to explore several questions, starting with the design and its intention for generating peaceful, inclusive and just spaces, and the role of these spaces in supporting everyday life spontaneous encounters and activities. Noting that this is a working paper, the initial findings indicate that libraries can be new urban catalysts in improving inclusive urban space, creating public space free of consumption constraints and empowering communities. Moreover, the co-design process is one approach to creating complex public spaces that contribute to social justice.
OtsikkoIntegrated planning in a world of turbulence - Book of Proceedings
KustantajaAssociation of European Schools of Planning (AESOP)
TilaHyväksytty/In press - 2023
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA4 Artikkeli konferenssijulkaisussa
TapahtumaAESOP Annual Congress: Integrated Planning in a World of Turbulence - Lodz, Puola
Kesto: 11 heinäk. 202315 heinäk. 2023


ConferenceAESOP Annual Congress


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