Status: Competition (2012)
Types: Education, University
The project of Otaniemi new central campus set itself the target of developing a structure that, even in respect of the history of the places and the already existing buildings, places itself in the urban landscape with an own contemporary identity.
Being contemporary, new spaces are flexible and allow the continuous exchange among the different matters comparable among them as the art, the architecture, the media and the design.
Closed and opened spaces, allow the students to meet also in rest moments and during the outdoor walks to the class.
The choice of volumes and their placing in the built up area, gave to the Square theme, focal in the project, the highest importance. The Square is all along a space where you can meet, have a break or simply go through. That’s why the planning considered a formal grid which permit the introduction of green areas, rest units and pedestrian paths.
A large green area underlines the bicycle parking. Inside this area have been positioned all the parking facilities. Showers, locker rooms, a bicycle rental and a bicycle parts shop.
Starting from this wooded area we’ll find an important bicycle lane that crossing all the area comes up to the infrastructural junctions present, first above of all the Metro. Every building is related with the outdoors by a relevant permeability.
A series of paths across the suspended volumes of buildings allows to go through the whole campus. These paths covered with volumes represent a rest area and a shelter from rain.
Innovation, flexibility and brightness are the terms which can summarise the features of buildings.
From a first visual approach it’s clear the intent to preserve the alignments of the existing buildings. Thanks to these alignments it has been possible to study all the views and the relation with the pre-existing buildings, first above all Alvar Aalto University.
A long path opened among the new buildings open a wide view for the Aalto building, which continues to be a reference point along with the new tower.
The choice of tower typology has been motivated from the will to make identifiable the new work and to create some new visual and functional reference points.
Although the tower represents a new visual reference, it does not block to view beyond. Transparent materials make it a light volume, and let glimpse the functions inside and the green that is its distinguishing element.
The remaining buildings are distributed in a linear way with interruptions where new paths are needed and junctions with the existing ones. Even if the volumes seem to look a “unicum” in terms of language, they have been planned with a modular design. The module permits a bigger flexibility in the course of time since it leaves the possibility to expand the complex, in length, in width and to create volumes also isolated.
The height of the complex has been proportioned to the existing one and to the new functions to be introduced. Internally, volumes are structured according to a double height system that exploits the wide glass windows, internal and on front, that, according to the announcement, encourage the interaction among the students.
Planning studying spaces implies a correct analysis of internal light. Due to this, volumes express themselves through two elements: an opaque casing with little and necessary holes (like a tape that folds on the bodies) and the remaining part of the skin in U-glass. U-glass is a translucent glass, (it is U shaped to improve its resistance), that gives great brightness. As formal and functional spots, from the skin emerge opaque concrete volumes.
Green areas have a key role in the project, since they characterize all the open areas through a grid that always guarantees the alternation of pedestrian areas and large green spots. Trees are covered break areas along with the wooded area that indicates the bicycle parking. The project does not restrict itself to introduce the green in the square since the green areas become a real structural element in the tower. The tower in fact has been thought as a real botanical garden. Within the framework closed spaces are reduced to minimum, in the meanwhile we can find double and triple height where little trees can be contained.
The symbol of tower coincides, this way, with the symbol of green, and then symbol of change and of growing. An almost empty tower in order to reinforce the fact that it is a visual and symbolic reference point, not an intensive functional centre.
Through a correct analysis of the announcement and through a systemic reading of the pre-existing buildings, the planning has been generated studying the alignments of the architectural existing elements. Thanks to the above it has been possible, in a flexibility and otherness logic, not to be invasive in respect of places and in the meantime to be identifiable as a new and contemporary work.
The project could be this way a new reference point both visual and in terms of layout of the new studying spaces, since extremely flexible and in a relation of continuous dialogue between the external and the internal. Transparency, light and green areas are the three elements that can summarize the planning work.