Friday, 22 November 2019

OODI* we love you: Helsinki's LIBRARY 2.0

Oodi, Odi, Ode - Photo by Kuvio

Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' was playing at OODI. It would the first time I'd see it on the Big Screen And my first visit to the most talked-about  building in Helsinki. The exterior wowed right off the bat with its bold, casual, 'come-on-in' attitude. We went to the cafe on the main floor, bought a glass of wine and looked around. For people of a certain age, like me, it was the 'shock of the new'. No Books**(on the 3rd floor). For kids, especially the 2nd floor, with its high tech 3D printers, power tools, music-making equipment, and more, it must be hog-heaven. OODI is no ordinary library.

Eki and I worked on a proposal to make a doc about the library and ALA – the architects who won the competition. I went to their office and met the young partners: Juha Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Samuli Woolston.  It was the kind of place you wanted to plunk yourself down and go to work. Like OODI, it was casual, chic, functional, friendly and international. YLE turned it down. They said the library would get so much attention they didn't need to commission a doc. They were right.  OODI was named the best library in the world. And best new building in Finland.  ALA is on a roll. They keep 51 architects busy. Their commissions include the University library in Lyon, France and the new entrance terminal at Helsinki's airport. When I asked Samuli what he thought clinched the deal for ALA to win the competition, he said the judges were impressed that they had got so much into just three floors.

A part of the city's 2.3 million book collection changes every thee months. It's so popular they sometimes run out of stock. The second floor is where you make and do stuff. The main floor has the cinema, a concert hall (the night we were there they had a jam-packed rock concert), a cafe-restaurant and faces a plaza with a direct view of the Parliament. Commissioned by the city to celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence (06.12/1917 – 06/12/2017), you couldn't find a better symbol of freedom. Let's all drink to that. Kippis. Skol. Cheers.

*OODI (F), ODI (S), ODE (E)

Sources: ALA, New York Times, internet, internet, Joni Hertell, Robert Pettus, personal experience

Next week: Greta Thunberg: Climate Change JOAN of ARC, or just a kid with an idee fixe?

Edit: Not much to add here - i have only been at Ode once, attending a lecture on drones and upcoming new regulations on flying them. They have a nice auditorium (actually, more than one, AFAIK), but one thing remains even with brand new facilities: the AV system never works. In this case, they had a hard time playing back videos with sound and full resolution. Perhaps it was just a fluke that can be attributed to the place being new, but still... it's funny how these things never just work. There's always some issues, even at best of places, it seems ;-)



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