Jätkäsaari Library

New children’s and family library wins hearts with its playfulness

The Jätkäsaari Library operates in the red-brick Huutokonttori building, which was built in the 1930s. In the new library, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle meets interesting shapes and colours that pay homage to the art of Henri Matisse. The space has been designed from a child’s perspective, and it is interesting and surprising as soon as you step inside. The first thing that catches the eye is the book recommendations for children and adults, and the little caterpillar that greets visitors from the ceiling. The library offers different areas for play, reading and relaxation with family and friends. There are also nest-like hiding places for the children to discover.

Living room and meeting place for families

The new 300-m2 library in Jätkäsaari was opened on the second floor of Huutokonttori in early 2022. The aim was to design a playful library that is full of surprises, taking into account a child’s perspective and scale. “The idea for the library stems from the residents’ wishes: they wanted a place that is suitable for children and families, with colours, quiet reading spots and hiding places – something distinctive that would be suitable for the new residential area,” says Sara Tuohikumpu, Lead Designer for the project. “The aim was to create a compact but functional space. Playfulness was an important message: this library is intended for children. I think we achieved this well,” says Lasse Pekkarinen, Service Manager at the Jätkäsaari Library. “In the past, the activities and space did not support each other. We wanted to create a children’s library that would be both functional and cosy,” Riikka Penttilä, Specialty Librarian adds.

Design drivers that were specified together:

  • surprising and welcoming
  • fun and playful
  • soft and warm
  • communal and home-like

Rune & Berg Design was responsible for the concept design and the spatial and furniture design, in cooperation with the client’s project group. Results from the resident survey, conducted by the library staff in 2021, were used in the design. The residents wanted a welcoming library that would be particularly designed for families and children. They wanted a peaceful space with areas for rest, relaxation and reading, either alone or with others. “The plans developed and found forms that we could not have anticipated. You provided us with the creative vision, and the process was exceptional,” Riikka says.

Joy of discovery and shared inspiration

Each function has its own place in the revamped library, but the space also adapts, for example, to simultaneous use by multiple school groups. “For example, the stage supports the diverse use of the space. On weekdays, it is used for reading stories, but it can also be used for performances, as needed,” Sara says. The experience always resembles the users, and the space offers something new to discover every time.  “The library is full of surprising nooks and crannies and fascinating details that the visitors can discuss with their children,” says Sara. “The entire library is an inspiring journey of experiences. The child in me loves the story of the caterpillar that serves as the backbone of the customer experience,” says Raija Mattila, Account Manager at Rune & Berg Design, praising the end result.

The colour palette and adaptability of the library have received a lot of positive feedback. Choosing a favourite spot at the library is difficult for many, which shows how successful the design is.  “The colours make me feel great, and they also highlight the playful details, such as the caterpillar head. My favourite is the overall view that you sees as you enter,” Lasse says, describing the end result. “I love the colours, they make the atmosphere so cosy. I am glad that we did not choose bright primary colours. Many of our customers have also said that the library makes them feel calm, and the space is not grim like it used to be. My favourite spot is probably the stage, which I often use with the children. It was such a good idea,” Riikka continues.

The users also love the new library. “Most of the feedback we have received has been positive. People are positively surprised when they come here. We have had several daycare groups from other neighbourhoods visiting the library in the spring, and the typical reaction is “how can this place be so nice and is it all for children?” The children get excited immediately and start to explore the space. Even the smallest children understand that this space has been designed for them, and they look for places where they can make themselves comfortable,” says Riikka.

Would you like to read more about the world of libraries?

Check out the Herttoniemi Library, designed by Rune & Berg Design.