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Fyyri Library in Kirkkonummi wins 2021 Finlandia Prize for Architecture

Philosopher Esa Saarinen highlights the Kirkkonummi Main Library’s quality for setting the stage for new encounters and creating a sense of ownership and belonging. The library was designed by JKMM Architects.

According to Esa Saarinen, the judge of the eighth Finlandia Prize for Architecture, Kirkkonummi Main Library Fyyri’s architecture skilfully highlights the twin raison d’être of every library: books and reading. In his statement, the philosopher praised the way Fyyri embodies the pillars on which the Finnish library institution rests: democracy, the cultural and intellectual dimension and an enduring faith in humanity.

“Libraries must be capable of moving with the times, and that is precisely what has happened in Kirkkonummi. Through our libraries we commit a collective act of service for the benefit of our community, we build our futures by offering everyone a space where they can think more, think different, think new, using fresh words and previously undiscovered nuances. All libraries emerge from the profoundly and enduringly relevant philosophical notion that is also the cornerstone on which our democracy, equality and belief in humanity all depend,” Saarinen says.

“In current library parlance, Fyyri is a ‘multifunctional space’ but such an administrative title fails to do the building justice. It’s about setting the stage for new and unexpected encounters, and about the vitally important collective phenomenon that arises when people experience a sense of ownership and belonging over something that they share. Fyyri’s greatness lies in the ability of its scales to breathe in tandem with the human organism in the dimension that we often describe as our soul,” Saarinen adds.

Three vertical photos: A tall white space with wooden bookshelves and chairs. A low space clad with green fabric, pillows on the floor and a woman reading. A low space with a wooden ceiling and armchairs, full-hight glazed wall with a view towards a stone fence.
photos: Pauliina Salonen

Libraries are infrastructure of happiness

Fyyri is the work of JKMM Architects, with Teemu Kurkela as the lead designer, Jukka Mäkinen as the project architect and Tiina Rytkönen as the interior architect.

JKMM has been involved in a number of new-generation library projects, including Turku Library, Seinäjoki Library, the Harald Herlin Learning Centre and, now, Kirkkonummi Library.

“We like to think of Finnish libraries as a sort of happiness infrastructure. As an architect, it is a great privilege to be involved in these projects. The Finnish library institution is more than 100 years old, and it keeps going from strength to strength, re-inventing itself every ten years or so,” lead designer Teemu Kurkela says.

Fyyri was completed in 2020 as an extension entirely enveloping the old library building from 1982, designed by architect Ola Hansson. The building's main entrance is located in a spot where the historic King’s Road, Finland’s medieval highway, bends. According to architect Jukka Mäkinen, the historic location was a source of particular inspiration for the designers.

“It has been a wonderful experience for us to be involved in creating a new centre for Kirkkonummi.  The library has a unique role to play as a public building flanked by the city’s market square and medieval church. If the church is the heart of the community here, then we like to think of the library as its imagination,” Mäkinen says.

JKMM Architects has been among the finalists of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture several times. In 2017 their design, together with Architects NRT, for the Harald Herlin Learning Centre in the Alvar Aalto-designed main library of the former Helsinki University of Technology was selected winner.

Alongside Fyyri, the nominees shortlisted for this year’s Finlandia Prize were Ylivieska Church by K2S Architects and the City of Helsinki Urban Enviroment Division headquarters by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects.

The 2021 pre-selection jury appointed by the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) comprised Professor Saija Hollmén, Professor Tuomo Siitonen, Professor Panu Lehtovuori and architect Mona Schalin, a former Finlandia Prize winner. The secretariat was provided by Paula Huotelin, Secretary General of SAFA.

Learn more about Fyyri at the Finnish Architecture Navigator through this link.