A new generation of libraries defined by copper


Nordic Brown Light pre-oxidised copper cladding, in the form of large shingles and vertical fins structuring glazing, creates a strong civic identity for the expanded and remodelled library in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

The revitalised building exemplifies a new generation of Finnish libraries which its architects, JKMM, have been active in shaping. As JKMM founding partner Teemu Kurkela explained:

“The library typology in Finland has changed. They are no longer solely about books but also getting together to share knowledge and experiences through multiple channels. They are not unlike community halls, which is why Finns today refer to libraries as public living rooms.”

The project is a sustainable, adaptive reuse of the original 1980s concrete library building, utilising its embodied carbon. JKMM have remodelled it and doubled its size, introducing new spaces for community uses such as toddler groups, youth clubs, exhibitions, events and performances. 

Nordic Brown Light Skin

Externally, the library is now clad in Nordic Brown Light pre-oxidised copper enwrapping the building and giving it a unity and strong presence as a civic landmark. Teemu Kurkela said: ‘The neighbouring medieval church has a distinctive green copper roof and we created a dialogue between the old and the new. Libraries have a very long lifespan, so it is sustainable to use a facade material with an exceptionally long life. It is an inherently timeless material that ages beautifully and we expect the library to look even better in 50 years’.

Nordic Brown provides the same oxidised brown surface that otherwise develops over time in the environment. The thickness of the oxide layer determines the colour of the surface finish, with darker or lighter (Nordic Brown Light) shades of brown. Nordic Brown Light gradually changes over time to a stable dark chocolate brown.

Unified by Materiality

Nordic Brown Light copper is used in several architectural forms – unified by their materiality – notably, distinctive shingles generating diagonal wave-like patterns. Teemu Kurkela added: ‘The shingle patterns bring to mind images of fishing nets, particularly fitting for a city with an extensive and beautiful coastline, and maritime heritage. Previously, we used similar Nordic Brown Light shingles to clad our extension to Alvar Aalto’s landmark Seinäjoki Library. But at Kirkkonummi, we used slightly larger shingles to make the pattern stronger, and arranged them at a more dynamic angle’.

Living Copper Surfaces

As well as Nordic Brown, the extensive Nordic Copper range also includes Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’ plus Nordic Blue, Nordic Green and Nordic Turquoise, developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas. In addition to the solid patina colours, ‘Living’ surfaces are available for each colour with other intensities of patina flecks revealing some of the dark oxidised background material. 

Nordic Copper alloys include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass – which can also be supplied pre-weathered. The innovative Nordic Royal is an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, giving it a rich golden through-colour and making it very stable. 

A growing series of ‘copper stories’ building studies exemplify the best in contemporary architecture and showcase the diversity of surfaces, forms and applications available with Nordic Copper today. For more information visit: www.nordiccopper.com or email: g.bell(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)aurubis.com