two triangles

Competition design for a public Library in Lohja, Finland, with Huseyin Yanar of Orpheus North Architects, and Kati Juola of the Natural Building Company.

The competition site faces the impressive medieval stone church of Lohja.  The church dominates the otherwise nondescript city of Lohja.  The church is surrounded by a hodgepodge of ordinary buildings from the 1960’s and 70’s.  They contrast sharply with the monolithic form of the church.  The site itself is highly irregular in shape.  We decided that the best way to hold our own, to respond to the strong form of the church, and to the irregularity of the surroundings, is to use a very simple but strong form to anchor the site.  We designed a grounded triangle that acts as a kind of visual platform for the church, one that pays homage through visual and spatial alignments.

The tilted triangle covers a single space on three levels: reading, lobby, and staff.  The roof is the most visible element and constitutes the main façade of the building.  It emerges from the ground as a textured stone surface, somewhat like the textures stone surface of the church.   The main entrance is off of a pedestrian path that cuts through the building. The path is aligned with the church, so that passers experience both buildings simultaneously.  The slope of the roof aligns with the top of the church.

The interior space is a unified variety.  The major spaces are visually connected to each other and to the outside so that one never feels enclosed underground.  There is ample light coming from the two large glass facades.   The device of a sloping roof allows a full range of interior scales, from the intimacy of the children’s library to the large space of the front reading room.