Fyyri, Kirkkonummi Main Library
The Fyyri library building in Kirkkonummi was completed in 2020. The original library, designed by Ola Hansson, has been retained and insightfully incorporated into Fyyri in its entirety. The copper-clad facades and white concrete, wood and glass interiors are unapologetically bold and have a sense of vivacity and momentum about them. Inside, a wealth of opportunities and resources await visitors.
Photos: Tuomas Uusheimo, Pauliina Salonen and Marc Goodwin
- Architectural design: JKMM Arkkitehdit / Teemu Kurkela (principal designer), Jukka Mäkinen (project architect), team members Asmo Jaaksi, Samuli Miettinen, Juha Mäki-Jyllilä, Alli Bur, Sini Coker, Christopher Delany, Aaro Martikainen, Marko Pulli, Pekka Airaxin, Elina Törmänen, Elina Niemi
- Client: Municipality of Kirkkonummi
- Main contractor: EKT Infra Oy, Rakennus Omera Oy, SRV Rakennus Oy
- Location: Kirkkonummi
- Programme: 4 700 m2
- Year of completion: 2020
STATEMENT OF THE PRE-SELECTION JURY
The Fyyri library building in Kirkkonummi was completed in 2020. The principal designer was Teemu Kurkela for JKMM Arkkitehdit.
The new building envelopes the original library from 1982 designed by Ola Hansson. The original building has been retained in full and insightfully incorporated into Fyyri.
The new Fyyri is a complete reimagining of the library as a concept, both in terms of its aesthetic and its function. The copper-clad facades and white concrete, wood and glass interiors are unapologetically bold and have a sense of vivacity and momentum about them. In Finland, the public library is a venerable yet welcoming and user-focused institution. Fyyri does an excellent job of imagining what the next few decades might have in store for it.
The library is for everyone; all are welcome to pursue their interests here. And there is a wealth of opportunities for doing just that, with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, a music studio and rehearsal spaces available to visitors. There are more low-key activities, too, like sewing, storytelling and even just chilling.
The architecture here skilfully highlights the twin raison d’être of every library ever: books and reading. The book collection is housed in an east-facing space built using tall and slender concrete structures. The periodicals room and cafe with their low ceilings and horizontal lines take their cue from Kirkkonummi’s medieval church. The design engages in dialogue with the city’s other architectures, creating a truly memorable and satisfying urban space.
The main entrance to the library is located in a spot where the historic King’s Road, Finland’s medieval highway, bends. Fyyri marks an historic point on the local map, replacing Ola Hansson’s vision with a monumental and yet unpretentious public structure, a gateway towards knowledge and community. The building forges links with the past while radiating shared meanings for the future.
BRIEF COMMENTS BY ESA SAARINEN
“As a person steeped in the tradition of reading, I’m a steadfast believer in the miracles that can emerge from the very depths of our soul, called forth by the books we read. I would argue that there are few sights as wonderful as someone immersed in a book, oblivious to the world around them. We all know that moment, I think, when we cast our eye over a book for the first time, and tentatively begin to explore what lies in store. That marks the moment at which we can begin to grow as humans. The onus is on us to make those moments, those opportunities for growth, available to all. It’s not just about sharing knowledge and information, it’s about the act of tending to our very souls. Just as a church has in its gift the ability to lend depth and intensity to our thoroughly human experience of the divine, and to affirm us in our gratitude and in our humility as we, like those that have come before us, strive and thirst for heaven, and just as the office building has the power to act as the engine for what is an entirely unstoppable and thoroughly rational flow of professional progress, so the library ensures that the very things that possess the potential to transform the life of all those who believe in the act of thinking are readily available to us.
Libraries must change, evolve, move with the times, and that is precisely what has happened here in Kirkkonummi. Democratic by their very definition and open to all, our libraries are our agoras, porous spaces that constitute the heart of our thinking lives. Through our libraries we commit a collective act of service for the benefit of our community, we build our futures by offering everyone a space where they can think more, think different, think new, use fresh words and discover nuances, where they can escape the confines of convention, received truths and flee the rut race. The philosophy that constitutes the library is the profoundly and enduringly relevant cornerstone on which our democracy, equality and belief in humanity all depend. If we are to grow as humans, we need to discover an alacrity of thought, new thoughts about thinking, a willingness to engage in a pursuit for greater complexity as a defence against the allure of inconsequence that threatens to flatten and reduce our humanity to a horrifically pleasant and thoroughly trivial form of barbarism.
As you walk through the doors at Fyyri you immediately enter a space guarded from above by a striking work of art, but my attention is drawn to a child-sized opening in one of the walls. Fyyri, it turns out, comes with a parallel child-height reality already built in, created, it feels, with all the gleeful joy of a five-year-old.
Access throughout is step-free, with the spaces melding and blending into one another with a warm effortlessness. Armed with the knowledge that the new library is built “over” the old library, I try to locate the joins between them. None are readily discernible, but what I do pick up on are a series of organic transitions, including the hugely inviting and amusing set of stairs that not only lead visitors up and down between the floors but also provide a place to sit and socialise. The boundary between the old and the new has become a boundarilessness, the sublimely aesthetic quality of which delights me immeasurable.”
Read the full comments by Esa Saarinen