Finlandia Prize for Architecture awarded to the spectator stand and multipurpose building ‘Railo’
The winner of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2016 selected by former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is the spectator stand and multipurpose building ‘Railo’ in the Sports Arena in Rovaniemi, northern Finland. Completed in 2015, the structure located near the city centre was designed by Arkkitehtityöhuone APRT Oy. The prize was received by the chief architect Aaro Artto at a ceremony held today in the Old Student House in Helsinki.
“Railo towers like a monumental landmark in the city. It fits perfectly into the ‘Reindeer Antler’ town plan designed by Alvar Aalto in 1954. At that time, the town was beginning to re-emerge from the ashes to become a proud Aalto city, rivalled only by Jyväskylä in its claim as Finland’s Aalto capital,” writes Paavo Lipponen.
“Railo appears immensely high. Attention is drawn to the wavelike form on the side facing the street and the partly wood-covered steel structures. The overall impression is lighter than if the building had been made of concrete. Ultimately, my selection was decided simply by the impression made by the architecture. I walked across the pitch and turned to look at the spectator stand directly from the front. What I saw was a building perfect in its form, as if a classic temple had risen under the northern sky,” says Lipponen, justifying his choice.
Kinetic work of art
The Rovaniemi Sports Arena is the home arena of the local football club RoPS. A competition for the design of the new spectator stand and multipurpose building was declared in 2012. The winning entry ‘Railo’ was submitted by Arkkitehtityöhuone Artto Palo Rossi Tikka Oy. In the plan, the new majestic spectator stand and the boulder-shaped residential and office buildings, once completed, form a crevasse-like roadway winding between them. However, the spectator stand and the facilities beneath it have already created a true landmark in Poromiehentie Street.
“By its size, Railo is a monumental building. The undulating row of supports in the stand lives like a kinetic work of art as you walk past it – illuminated at night and a composition of light and shadows during the day. It is an elevating experience to sit in the top row of the spectator stand and not only watch the football but also see the entire city and admire the beautiful hilly landscape surrounding it. Viewed from the pitch, the stand dotted by colourful seats creates an urban version of the scenic landscape,” says chief architect Aaro Artto
“The people in Rovaniemi wanted a multipurpose building and that’s what they got. One day when I went to take photographs of the sports hall I came to witness a dance practice by senior citizen ladies, which proved to be a delightful experience. Throughout the year, school children and parents practise, engage in physical exercise, play games or ski round the central field. This major project was executed during one winter almost entirely with local resources,” Artto concludes.
A cultural feat by Rovaniemi City
According to the Pre-Selection Jury, the architectural competition and its outcome was a major architectural feat by Rovaniemi City that will delight both the local football fans and visiting tourists. Rovaniemi has previously been known for a number of famous buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. The new sports arena and multipurpose building add a contemporary edge to the city’s high-quality architecture.
The Railo project was commissioned by Markkinakiinteistöt Oy and Rovaniemi City and built by Levi-Rakennus Oy.
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture is awarded for the design or redevelopment of a notable new building or group of buildings completed within the past three years. The prize may be awarded either to a Finnish or foreign architect, or to an architectural firm for a project designed for a location in Finland; or a Finnish architect or architectural firm for a project designed for a location abroad. Other candidates for the prize beside Railo were the Lappeenranta City Theatre, Löyly and Suvela Chapel.
This year’s Pre-Selection Jury members are Pirjo Sanaksenaho (Chair), Professor of Building Design at the Department of Architecture of the Aalto University and Head of the Research Institute for Health Care Facilities (SOTERA); Sari Nieminen, Artist Professor in Architecture; Eero Lundén, Director of Lundén Architecture; and Janne Pihlajaniemi, Professor of Architecture at the University of Oulu and Partner at M3 Architects. Serving as Secretary of the Jury was Paula Huotelin, Secretary General of the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA).
The shortlist for the 2016 Finlandia Prize for Architecture: Lappeenranta City Theatre, Löyly, Railo and Suvela Chapel
Paavo Lipponen will elect the winner
The Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) will award the third Finlandia Prize for Architecture in 2016. The finalists shortlisted by the Pre-Selection Jury are the Lappeenranta City Theatre, Löyly in Helsinki’s Hernesaari district, the spectator stand of the Rovaniemi Sports Arena Railo and Suvela Chapel in Espoo. The prize winner will be chosen by Paavo Lipponen, former Prime Minister of Finland. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony held on 13 October in Helsinki.
Four different types of living rooms
According to Pirjo Sanaksenaho, who chairs the Pre-Selection Jury, all four finalists offer in their own way a living room for local residents, each with a unique character arising from their function and environment.
“The shortlisted new builds represent buildings of widely differing functions and geographic locations. What they have in common is that they all form a space for the public to spend time in – a church space, a sports venue, a cultural space and leisure time space. In each of these buildings, architecture has been used to give them interest and personality within their respective environments.”
The Lappeenranta City Theatre is housed, unusually for a theatre, within a new extension of a shopping mall. The Pre-Selection Jury finds that the concept in which a large public building is housed within a commercial building ultimately creates an intriguing setting for a new type of theatre building to emerge. The foyer of the theatre opens up towards the high central hall of the mall. The public spaces are furnished with dark monochrome and metallic surfaces providing a convincing contrast to the abundance of colour and information stimuli of the shopping mall. Built on one level, the theatre centres around a tight group of large hall spaces. Its elegant simplicity raises the ambiance above and beyond the ordinary. Completed in 2015, the theatre was designed by ALA Architects (architects Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston).
Löyly was erected in Helsinki’s Hernesaari district this year. According to the Pre-Selection Jury, few buildings in Helsinki that are open to the public make such full use of their location by the sea as Löyly does. The horizon is visible from almost all indoor spaces and the views can also be taken in from the roof. The building is a mound clad in wooden lamellas that beautifully reflect the light thanks to their triangular profile. The wood used on the elevation will acquire a grey patina over time, so that, from a distance, it will look like one of the bare granite rocks emblematic of the Helsinki coastline. The slats provide discrete privacy to those using the saunas, while allowing a sea view from inside. The building was designed by Avanto Architects (architects Ville Hara, Anu Puustinen, Antti Westerlund and Hiroko Mori; architect students Laura Nenonen ja Xiaowen Xu).
The spectator stand of the Rovaniemi Sports Arena, Railo, and the boulder-shaped residential and office buildings, once completed, will form a crevasse-like roadway winding between them. The building is located within the so-called “Reindeer Antler” town plan designed by Alvar Aalto, near the town centre of Rovaniemi. The stand has a very different look depending on the direction from which it is viewed. When seen directly from the front, from the other side of the pitch, the structure looks like a lean and lightweight canopy supported by columns. The best view of the spectator stand is from a distance: a large-scale, statuesque sports arena. According to the Pre-Selection Jury, the new sports arena and multipurpose building add a contemporary edge to the city’s high-quality architecture. Railo was designed by APRT Architects (architects Aaro Artto, Teemu Palo, Yrjö Rossi, Hannu Tikka and Jussi Vakkilainen).
The Suvela Chapel creates a natural highpoint within its surroundings.Some of the spaces are used by the City of Espoo residents’ park. The building also houses some facilities serving the residents’ park, making it a natural meeting point for people of all ages. The building forms clear delineation for traffic routes around it and the yard area it encloses. The copper clad building extends from the ground over the roof and belfry, resulting in a sculptural impression. The interior of the main hall is powerful in its simplicity. Completed in 2016, the chapel was designed by OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture (architects Anssi Lassila, Iida Hedberg)
Paavo Lipponen to choose the winner of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture
The Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) will award the next Finlandia Prize for Architecture in October 2016. The prize winner will be chosen by Paavo Lipponen, former Prime Minister of Finland. The shortlist of contestants will be announced in August or September and the winner at the award ceremony held on 13 October in Helsinki.
During Lipponen’s term as Prime Minister in 1998, Finland secured its first ever architectural policy programme. His government promoted wood construction, examples being the Sibelius Hall in Lahti and the European Forest Institute in Joensuu . In addition, the Alvar Aalto Academy, an international discussion forum for environmental culture particularly concerned with modern architecture, product design as well as relevant research and training, was established on Paavo Lipponen’s initiative. Currently Lipponen dedicates much of his time to the protection of built cultural heritage.
Architecture is also an important part of his leisure pursuits.
“My main interest is architecture. I have a deep interest in Baroque architecture in particular, which has taken me on trips to old European capitals,” Lipponen says.
In the 1980s, Lipponen played an active role as a member of the Helsinki City Council in the debate on the development of Helsinki city centre and especially the area around Töölönlahti bay.
“In my opinion, the area should be built in a way that forms smaller, intimate squares as suggested by Camillo Sitte,” Lipponen says.
Pre-selection jury to name the finalists
This year, the Pre-selection Jury is chaired by Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Professor of Building Design and Head of the Sotera Research Institute. She is also Partner at Sanaksenaho Architects Ltd. The other jury members are Sari Nieminen, Artist Professor in Architecture; Eero Lundén, Director of Lundén Architecture; and Janne Pihlajaniemi, Professor of Architecture at the University of Oulu and Partner at M3 Architects. The Secretary of the Jury is Paula Huotelin, Secretary General of the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA).
The recipient of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture is elected by an influential stakeholder representing an expertise other than architecture. The Elector makes the choice based on a shortlist of 3–5 architectural project named by the Pre-selection Jury. The Prize is awarded for the design or redevelopment of a notable new building or group of buildings completed within the past three years. The finalists are announced in August or September.