The model held in her hand a single red rose. When the photographer was setting up between shots, she smiled awkwardly at the passersby. But most people in the vicinity were too wrapped up in what they were doing to gawk. Students stared blankly at their textbooks with their headphones on. A couple chatted as they looked out the glass walls toward the Parliament House. Two women lounged on a beanbag, playing with an infant. Library staff flitted around in grey vests, shelving books and answering patron questions. A young girl bounced in her comfortable chair as she flipped through a picture book.
Many were visiting Oodi for the first time as Helsinki’s new central library had been open to the public for less than two weeks. They admired the design features that made for a welcoming space: the sloping floor that allowed for intervisibility from end to end of the third floor, the variety of chairs and couches, the lighted bookshelves. There was a constant flow of patrons up and down the spiral staircase featuring 381 painted words chosen from a selection suggested by the public (a criminal lawyer might appreciate syyttömille.) Nourishment was available at the first floor restaurant, and the café nestled among the books on the third floor was very popular as patrons warmed up with a cup of coffee on a cold December day. If anyone had come to borrow power tools, it wasn’t apparent.