Helsinki Library Competition

Sponsor: City of Helsinki, Finland

Type: Open, International, two-stage

Languages: English, Finnish


30 March 2012 – Deadline for registration

16 April 2012 – End of Stage one of competition

Competition Format

The competition is being arranged as an open two-stage international architectural competition. Those persons interested in participating must register on the registration form via the competition webpage (link).

From the entries submitted in Stage 1 the jury will select 6-8 entries that they have judged the best for further development in Stage 2.

(If Stage 1 produces a proposal that stands out clearly as the best one amongst all the entries such that it would not be appropriate to arrange Stage 2, the jury can decide that Stage 2 will not be held).


Each competitor chosen for the second phase will receive an award of EUR 25 000. Furthermore, the winning entry will recieve an award of EUR 50 000, the runner-up an award of EUR 37 500 and the third-placed competitor an award of EUR 25 000.

Eligibility (competition Stage 1)

In Stage 1 the design team shall comprise of at least the following members:

– A person, named as the design team leader, who in the country where he or she qualified or in the country where he or she practices the profession has the right to practice as an architect.

– An expert in energy technology who has at his or her disposal the necessary software and expertise to provide energy and indoor environment simulations, as well as experience of energy and indoor environment simulations for a one public or commercial building > 1000 m2 (gross floor area) (at least one reference to be provided). Design teams can share an energy technology expert.

The participants must additionally commit themselves to the following requirements if, following the announcement of the competition results, they receive a commission for further design :

– The team must be complemented when necessary with a person who fulfils the qualification requirements in Finland of a chief designer of the scheme.

– It has the readiness (expertise and software) for further planning through building information modelling (BIM).

– The team operates through a registered company that fulfils the eligibility requirements, so that it becomes the contracting party with the City of Helsinki. The team agrees to deliver on request without delay to the client the required documents demonstrating their competency.

Additional eligibility criteria (Competition Stage 2)

The teams selected to participate in Stage 2 of the competition shall additionally include:

– An architect who has experience of implementing the design of at least one public building >5000 m2 (gross floor area) during the last ten years.

– A structural engineer with at least 5 years work experience as well as planning experience of projects which in terms of size and complexity correspond to the competition design task.

– A local contact person (architect) familiar with Finnish law, standards, regulations and conditions.

The design teams selected for Stage 2 can, if they so wish, change the appointed energy technical expert and appoint another on instead who fulfils the qualification requirement. Those teams selected to participate in Stage 2 must without delay deliver the required documents to show that they qualify for Stage 2, and if necessary must complement their design team. The eligibility criteria for the energy technology expert are the same as in Stage 1, but in Stage 2 those selected must provide additional information about the software used for the energy and indoor environment simulations.

If it is decided that Stage 2 of the competition will not be held, the qualifications applying to those selected to participate in Stage 2 shall then apply to the design team who receive the commission, but without the requirement concerning a structural engineer.


Tuula Haatainen, Deputy mayor (Chairperson)

Maija Berndtson, Library director, Helsinki City Library

Tuomas Rajajärvi, Head of Helsinki City Planning Department

Irmeli Grundström, Project head, City of Helsinki Real Estate Department

Jarek Kurnitski, Chief researcher, Sitra Energy Programme

Tuuli Mattelmäki, PhD, Senior researcher, Industrial design, Aalto University (service design expert)

Mauri Ylä-Kotola, PhD, Rector/Professor University of Lapland

Ministry of Education and Culture representative:

− Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General

Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) nominated representatives:

− Käpy Paavilainen, architect SAFA

− Vesa Oiva, architect SAFA

Architect Kjetil T. Thorsen (director of Snøhetta architects, Norway), as well as library expert Rolf Hapel (Director of Citizens’ Services and Libraries, City Of Aarhus, Denmark) have been appointed as the international experts outside the jury.

Design Challenge

The aim of the competition is to find a high-quality and long-lasting design solution, which fits into the cityscape of the Töölönlahti block entity. The building must offer settings of good functional quality and high flexibility in terms of technology and space for a library administration in transformation. The building must also be ecologically efficient and technologically and economically feasible.


The Central Library is planned to be built on lot no. 2014 in Töölönlahti, in the area between the Makasiinipuisto park and the Töölönlahdenkatu street. The entries may, for justified reasons, deviate from the border of the lot that has been established in the city plan, but only in a way that does not require a change in the city plan. The essential design principles, the cityscape objectives and the nature in the park area must be preserved. The walking and cycling routes which border the buildings must also remain fluent

To register for the competition, go to: