It is not often that I enter a place and find myself unable and unwilling to speak due to the utter bliss I feel as I avidly soak up my surroundings.
Welcome to the most loveliest of places – the Oodi Central library in Helsinki. It is a place of thriving tranquility where people of all ages can sit, chat, work, scroll, think, write, read or even learn a skill.
There are three floors altogether: a cafe on the ground floor and then on the second floor – spaces to play electronic games, make use of a 3D printer, sew fabric on one of the sewing machines or work in peace in a private glass booth.The top floor, where I am writing this, comprises various seating areas: work stations, sofas, communal tables, isolated chairs, a sloped wooden floor and so the list goes on. It took me a while to decide where to sit as it was all so inviting.
As I sit and write, I am aware of a soft, gentle hum of voices but if I choose to, I can tune in on a conversation close by or switch off completely and get lost in my own thoughts. Glancing around, there are individuals randomly seated absorbed in their own books; to my right is a long table busy with a hive of quiet activity, where people work on open laptops; meanwhile over to my left four young girls chat on lounge seats around a low coffee table and in the far corner by the window, crossed-legged on the wide, wooden ledge sit a young couple playing Monopoly borrowed from the library shelves that stand in the central area of the top floor.
Really, words do not suffice to describe this wonderful calming, yet productive space. It’s strange because people seem lost (and so relaxed) in their own little world and yet it feels such a extraordinarily sociable environment. If Helsinki is on your list of places to travel, then I highly recommend that you take a couple of hours out to relax in the Oodi Central library.