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Aalto University Library was transformed into Harald Herlin Learning Centre

Its dynamic and modern premises provide support to multidisciplinary and a novel kind of learning, research and work.
The former book storage room in the basement has been transformed into a multi-functional Makerspace. Photo: Aalto University/Tuomas Uusheimo

Aalto University’s library building designed by Alvar Aalto and completed in 1970 at the very centre of Otaniemi Campus has been renovated. The building was hatched into a multi-purpose and modern learning centre for students, faculty and other customers. Its dynamic premises provide support to multidisciplinary and novel kind of learning, research and work. Digitalisation has freed more space from books to customers, various kinds of activities and user-oriented services. The opening of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre is celebrated on 4 November.  

Its name, Harald Herlin Learning Centre, pays tribute to Bror Harald Herlin (1874-1941), who was a Finnish engineer, entrepreneur and industrialist. His life work brings together technology, business, design and entrepreneurship. These things also form the core of the multi-disciplinary activities of Aalto University. The name was chosen together with Aalto’s long-term partner, the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries.

The Reading Room is spacious and the skylight brightens up the room. Photo: Aalto University/Tuomas Uusheimo

Centre of a new kind of learning and encounters

Students, teachers, researchers, library staff, architects and service designers together planned the activities and designed the spaces of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre in a completely new way. The services at the learning centre were located by themes: the protected second floor still functions as the library and reading room, Tori (marketplace) with its media walls and cafés, is situated on the first floor, and the new media services can be found on the bottom floor. The Harald Herlin Learning Centre also contains the Visual Resource Centre with its image material and studio spaces, for example for recording lectures. It has study, meeting and exhibition spaces as well.

"The task of Aalto University is to educate game changers, professionals who solve the world’s great challenges in a sustainable manner. The renovated Harald Herlin Learning Centre creates the setting for a new kind of learning and thus serves our goals, says Eero Eloranta, Vice President responsible for teaching at Aalto University.

Preserving and fostering Alvar Aalto’s architectural heritage

In the architectural career of Alvar Aalto, the Harald Herlin Learning Centre and the Undergraduate Centre form one of the most important building complexes. The renovation of the adjacent Undergraduate Centre was completed last year. The renovation of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre was completed in full respect for the original and in cooperation with the National Board of Antiquities and the Alvar Aalto Foundation. The building beautifully exhibits the features characteristic of Alvar Aalto’s design, among them its fan-shaped form and masterful use of indirect light.

The developer responsible for the renovation was Aalto University’s property company Aalto University Campus & Real Estate. The architectural design was the responsibility of NRT Architects Oy (SAFA Architects Teemu Tuomi and Tuomo Remes), interior design was done by JKMM Architects (Interior Architect, SIO, Päivi Meuronen) and the realisation of the building contract was carried out by NCC.

The Makerspace walls have holes in them, nooks, where you can study, read or take a break. Photo: Aalto University/Tuomas Uusheimo

A part of the campus renewal

Aalto University will have located all its core activities to the Otaniemi Campus by 2021. The renovation of Dipoli to make it the University main building open for all will be completed next year. The School of Arts, Design and Architecture will move from Arabia to Otaniemi in 2018, and the School of Business will move there a year later from Töölö.

An integrated campus will further contribute to students’, researchers’ and major stakeholders’ multidisciplinary cooperation and interaction. In fact, Otaniemi already boasts an internationally unique innovation hub. 

Harald Herlin Learning Centre’s opening hours:
Mon-Thu 9–20, Fri 9–18, Sat 10–15. In addition, Tori and Makerspace are open every day at 7–24. There is also a space on the first floor that will be open 24/7.

Visiting address: Otaniementie 9, Espoo
Customer service email: [email protected]
Customer service telephone: +358 50 316 1011

More information:

Architecture and campus: Professor of Architecture Antti Ahlava, Vice President, Campus Development, tel. +358 50 324 1179

Teaching and the operation of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre: Professor of Industrial Engineering Eero Eloranta, Vice President, Teaching, tel. +358 50 4323 411

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