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New Helsinki central library to include sauna after all

Helsinki city council has decided that the new library planned for the capital will include a sauna after all. The plan to build a sauna in the new library hit a snag last week when the city’s library director suggested it might be left out—but now the library sauna has been saved by politicians on the city’s culture committee.

Havainnekuva Keskustakirjastosta. Image: ALA-arkkitehdit

Saunas are an essential part of Finnish recreation time, and now Helsinki residents will be able to enjoy a refreshing sauna break at the city’s central library.

The original plan to build a sauna there had been called into question by the city’s library operations director. That followed an estimate that visitor levels at the building could be much higher than previously projected. However municipal power brokers on the culture and library committee now say the sauna is an essential part of their vision.

"This was already part of the previous committee’s vision," said Johanna Sydänmaa of the National Coalition party, who chairs the committee. "We want to see this as an educational sauna, and a way of promoting Finnish culture. The idea is to link literature and the sauna. The visibility of the central library will offer a unique opportunity to display Finnish sauna culture."

Helsinki’s new central library will be located by Töölö bay and  is planned to be ready by 2017, to commemorate the centenary of Finnish independence. The project carries an estimated cost of 96 million euros.

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