Oodi – Helsinki’s Central Library

Oodi - Helsinki's Central LibraryHelsinki Central Library Oodi

Oodi is a recently opened library in Helsinki’s centre. It was designed by ALA Architects and commissioned in connection with Finlands centenary of independence in 2017. The huge wooden structure dominates the area in which it is located. Oodi is an excellent example of modern architecture, filled with workspaces, books and services a library provides for its community.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

Inside Oodi is clean, spacious and minimal. This theme runs through each floor of the building, though from a design perspective they are all very different from each other. The top floor is walled with large glass windows that creates a light and open space.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

Design is the heart and soul of the building, there are no half measures here.

Surprisingly, Oodi features very little books for its size. It’s billed as a modern library, one that focuses on services and workspaces rather than physical information. The bookshelves it does have are small and minimal, though part of the Helmet network you are able to access a much larger selection of books.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

 

From the top floor the library offers 360° view of its surroundings. Unfortunately some of Kansalaistori still remains under construction, though the view to Helsinki’s recently renovated Parliament House is uninterrupted.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

What Oodi does well is the creative use of workspaces, and there are plenty of them. Each level is filled largely with communal spaces, each with its own design and character. There are also meeting rooms, individual work rooms and quiet spaces, not to forget those dedicated to specialisations such as a music studio.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

From the outside Oodi is remarkable from every angle. The sheer size of the building isn’t full understood until you stand at its front door and look up its wooden facade. From end to end it stretches and curves naturally into the distance.

Oodi - Helsinki's Central Library

Oodi is proof that functional buildings don’t have to be boring and I couldn’t imagine many other countries investing money in buildings, such as libraries, as highly as Finland does. But, even after my visit, I find it hard to understand Oodi and its purpose. It’s a huge and costly building most dedicated to work spaces, if nothing more it is a fine example of architecture and design in a city that continues to out do itself.

Further Reading:

If Oodi doesn’t convince you then take a look the other great libraries in Does Helsinki Have the Best Looking Libraries? And a more detailed look at my favourite The National Library of Finland.

Inside Oodi, Helsinki’s new flagship library by The Economist.

 

A winter’s Day in Tallinn’s Old Town

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Over the years I have visited Tallinn many times thanks to it being only a short ferry ride from Helsinki. Each time visiting new places and getting to know the city that little bit more. Whatever my plans they always include a trip to its Old Town.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Tallinn’s Old Town refers to its medieval region that dates back to the 13th century in the heart of the city. Its cobbled streets, gothic architecture and well preserved city walls make it a must to people visiting the Baltic region.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old TownA winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

There are plenty of small laneways to walk and discover. You don’t need to worry about get lost because, more often than not, you end up at the Town Hall Square, home to one of the best Christmas markets, and surrounded by authentic restaurants, bars and cafes.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

There are two great view points over Tallinn’s Old Town. They can be difficult to find but after a climb up hill and winding through the small cobbled streets you will be rewarded with uninterrupted views, even on a snowy winter’s day.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Exploring Tallinn’s Old Town can easily take a day but make sure you spare some time to travel further afield. Telliskivi, Kadriorg park and the beautiful neighbourhood of Kalamaja are all worth a visit.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Further Reading:

For more photos from Tallinn visit my Instagram.

Take a look at one of my other visits to the city in Doors of Tallinn.

Boredom Births Creativity

What do you get when you take a bored Finnish man struggling to survive winter and give him a chainsaw?

An Ice Carousel

What is that I hear you call, well let me tell you.

First you need a frozen lake, many places don’t have those but Finland has them in abundance this time of year. Then, take a chainsaw and a length of wood long enough to mark out your circumference. Work your way around cutting through the ice until there is a small gap that will allow the circle to rotate.

Keep hold of that chainsaw, you’ll need it again. On the outside of the large circle you have created cut a small hole, slightly away from the edge, and remove the ice. Here you will insert a boat motor.

Next. Gather all your friends and stand over the edge of your newly formed carousel. With one foot push off from the surface of the lake until your carousel begins to turn, turn on the boat motor to assist you and keep the carousel moving continuously.

Voila, now you have your very own ice carousel. Invite your friends over and have a sauna, which of course you set up in the middle of your carousel.

 

Boredom Births Creativity

Over this winter many Ice Carousels have been set up throughout Finland. This one I visited was actually two carousels created on töölönlahti in the center of Helsinki to celebrate Finland’s 100th year of independence. From the sky it read the number 100 with the carousels representing the 0’s and solar panels used to power the sauna and the motor lined up as the 1.

Boredom Births Creativity

Check out the video below and see the Ice Carousel turn through its Helsinki surroundings.

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Autumn

I have now hiked in Repovesi National Park in autumn and winter with both trips being equally interesting in their different ways. One of the places I visited during both trips was Olhava, a huge rock cliff that is a popular spot for climbing, but also a great place for photographs.

During the autumn I was restricted to the lakeside but in the winter with the lake frozen I was able to move freely and take photos from any angle, I was also able to walk right up to and along the cliff.

What’s your favourite view?

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Winter

In response to the photo challenge A Good Match

Further reading:

Don’t forget to read about my latest visit to Repovesi National Park in Winter, as well as my other posts from my nature trips in Finland:

Repovesi National Park in Autumn

Three Nations Border Point

5 Things to do in Finnish Lapland in Summer

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Among my many aims during the winter months was to spend a night camping. I had been camping many times but in the U.K temperatures generally stay above zero and the chances of snow is almost none. To winter camp in Finland would be an interesting experience and, more importantly, a test of what I could endure.

With a few friends we drove out to Repovesi National Park with the aim to spend a night in the Finnish nature. Luckily, the temperature was a pleasant -8°c., not too cold but cold enough.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Repovesi National Park in Winter

While walking it was easy to stay warm, normally stripping back to only the necessary layers but once we stopped it became important to put those layers back on.  My difficulty has always been my toes, no matter what I do when I stop they are the first body part to get cold and the hardest to keep warm.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Hiking during winter had one great difference, there were short cuts everywhere, when ever we needed we could just cut across the frozen lakes rather than keeping to the trails, making the national park very accessible. There wasn’t much snow cover so walking without the assistance of snow shoes was comfortable.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Our aim for the day was the rock formation Olhava and we arrived a little before sunset, though there would be little chance of seeing one. The clouds broke for a moment when we arrived but more rolled in as we made the climb to the top.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

After spending some time on Olhava, we decided to camp in the area and use the fireplace by the lake to cook our dinner and supply some much needed warmth.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

After dinner we headed back to Olhava across the frozen lake to take a few night time shots, using our headlamps to create different light effects on the iconic cliff face.

Sleeping was the time I was dreading the most, it was easy to stay warm while walking but during the night that might become more difficult, especially if the temperatures dropped. I layered up, almost wearing more clothes now than I had been wearing during the day. I was determined to sleep well.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

The next morning we broke camp and hit the trail without breakfast, aiming to be back at the car park before lunch and indulge in a pizza on the drive back to Helsinki. It wasn’t as cold as yesterday but by the time all our gear was away we needed to start moving to warm up again.

Compared to the others I had similar experience but I didn’t have the gear. I had to pack more to make sure I was prepared, extra clothes. two spring sleeping bags combined with a liner,  and two sleeping mats. Everything was used to ensure I ‘survived’ the night.
Repovesi National Park in Winter

A short route was planned with some backtracking involved. We wanted to take in the view from the viewing tower, a place I had also visited during the Autumn. Repovesi National Park is full of excellent viewing spots and we had managed to visited a few of the best during this short trip.

After the viewing tower we cut our way back across lakes to find the shortest and most enjoyable route, making any detours that we desired until we found out way back to Lapinsalmi Bridge. This time we crossed the lake underneath it rather than crossing it as we had done the day before.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

If you have enjoyed this then my other experiences in the Finnish nature may be of interest to you.

Further Reading:

Repovesi National Park in Autumn

Three Nations Border Point

5 Things to do in Finnish Lapland in Summer