Herttoniemi Library

A new service model combines youth services with a library

The Herttoniemi Library has energetic colours, interesting art and varied spaces that invite visitors to take a closer look at its services. The multipurpose facility is one thousand square metres in size, and it offers a lot more than just traditional library services. You can find a youth space and different types of shared spaces, such as a studio and theatre hall and a quiet working space. Each space in the library reflects the local culture with its own story and offers much to explore on every visit. Another key concept is equality: everyone can enjoy the library, from young people to local residents to library employees. There are spaces for every need, whether you come in to enjoy a relaxing story time, to work on your own or to participate in lively events.

Concept that redefines a library

The Herttoniemi Library, which is part of the Helmet library network, and Herttoniemi’s youth centres moved to new facilities in the local service centre Hertsi in May 2020. The City of Helsinki and the City of Espoo have, in fact, moved other libraries into shopping centres for easier access and to make the libraries closer to the lives of local residents. When the Herttoniemi Library was changing locations, the decision was made to also redefine the concept of a library. The aim was to create a new service model that combines a youth space and a library and supports the local culture in Eastern Helsinki. At the same time, the employees wanted more peaceful workspaces that supported recovery.

The library was designed according to the following design drivers:

  • a new type of service model
  • supporting local culture
  • bold, exciting and inviting

Rune & Berg Design was responsible for the Herttoniemi Library’s overall concept, interior design and graphic look. User needs and service paths were key features in the design: the project included service design workshop, surveys and six visits to other libraries to find the best solutions. Participants in the project included the library staff, customers of different ages and young people who spend time in the youth spaces. The users who participated in the workshops were keen on colours and an atmosphere that were bold, exciting and inviting. “Without understanding user needs, we would not have chosen such a colourful look”, says Sara Tuohikumpu, Lead designer of the project.

Inspiration from books and the emotions they evoke

The new Herttoniemi Library charms with its strong colours and fantastical atmosphere. As soon as you walk through the door, it feels like stepping into another world, with new stories in every space. The design was inspired books – both the stories they tell and the emotions they evoke. The aim is to bring those stories and emotions to life with the use of space. The art, in particular, helps in creating the fantastical atmosphere. The art was brought into the library in a variety of ways: the library hall is an art exhibition space for residents, and the youth living room is decorated by art from the young people themselves. The cherry on top is the works by Lasse Juutti from the Helsinki Art Museum. These pieces are displayed on the great walls of the library hall.

“The locals wanted the library to have more ‘samba, rumba and colours’ in its look. With that in mind, the new library has a strong splash of colours that leave an impact. I hope that it gives users the feeling that they do not need to limit themselves – not in art, music or culture in general”, says the project’s interior architect Johanna Happonen.

Much more than a traditional library

The Herttoniemi Library is more a local cultural centre than a traditional library. The opening hours and the library’s services were expanded, and it can also be used independently. In addition, the library plays host to different events and art exhibitions. “The inspiration and features of the Hertsi library were created by listening to the locals. The library is a place that offers a wide variety of leisure services, and the place’s look represents the locals. It is always great to be able to have a larger impact on people’s lives”, Johanna says happily.

In addition to services, Hertsi has several different spaces: the staff has office and break spaces, while the citizens have access to an inspiring library hall with its book recommendations as well as a quiet working space that can be accessed independently. Special attractions include a music studio and the children’s Satukattila space, where the family’s youngest can dive into the wonderful world of stories. Young people have access to the shared lounge and workspace in the youth space, a shared kitchen and entertainment and exercise spaces.

The new Herttoniemi Library is a lively meeting place with the style of Eastern Helsinki, where each space is its own world. The library’s customers and employees as well as young people can enjoy art, events and reading, each in their own way, in a story-filled and evocative environment. During the opening, 81% of the 319 respondents who gave feedback said that the library and youth space make Herttoniemi an even more attractive place to live.