1st October 2018

Finlandia Prize for Architecture awarded to New Children’s Hospital in Helsinki

The shortlist for the fifth Finlandia Prize for Architecture featured the Amos Rex art museum, Lallukka Artists’ Residence, the New Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University’s Think Corner and Tuupala Timber School. The 2018 winner was chosen by forensic orthodontist Helena Ranta.

Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District’s New Children’s Hospital was designed by SARC Architects and Architect Group Reino Koivula, comprising Antti-Matti SiikalaSarlotta NarjusSakari Forsman and Susanna Kalkkinen. The team’s approach focused on the hospital’s young patients and their families, placing them at the centre of the design process throughout. Fresh and innovative, the end result represents an entirely new departure for hospital design.

“It is wonderful that a patient and family centred design process has also succeeded in delivering an architecturally ambitious result worthy of this incredible honour,” said Antti-Matti Siikala, the project’s chief designer.


Young patients and their families at heart of design process

The facilities and services at the New Children’s Hospital are designed to make life easier for children and families, many of whom will be facing a difficult and worrying time when they visit.

“Painted on the wall of the hospital’s entrance foyer are the words ‘Working together, for the safety and comfort of every child’  in Finland’s two official languages, Finnish and Swedish. This is a motto that I believe we can all live by.  The children now have a hospital, where every single detail has been carefully and thoughtfully considered with their health and wellbeing in mind,” explained Helena Ranta.

“The New Children’s Hospital has been an exceptional project in many ways, but what truly makes it stand out is how immersed the design team has been in every aspect of the process, from considering the building’s impact on the wider urban environment to focusing on getting even the smallest interior details just right. We created our own fictional narrative to shed light on the actual experience that patients and visitors would have at the hospital. It was intended to support and inform our design work and ensure that we were well equipped to do our best across the wide variety of different interiors,” Siikala says, describing the design process.

The New Children’s Hospital opened on 17 September.

Prize highlights cultural capital inherent in architecture

“Fascinating” and “challenging” is how Helena Ranta describes her task of selecting the winner of this years Finlandia Prize for Architecture.

“Although they are very different, the five shortlisted projects all represent the finest in Finnish contemporary architecture, reflecting an entirely new level of openness and engagement with the ever-evolving world around them.”

The projects shortlisted for this year’s Finlandia Prize for Architecture have all succeeded in widening participation in the urban environment and making it more accessible for a diverse range of people. Amos Rex has begun to integrate into the open urban space in the Finnish capital, while the Tuupala Timber School is delivering quality, beauty and a better user experience for its students. In responding to popular demand for new opportunities for learning and engagement, Think Corner is helping to make science more accessible, whereas the Lallukka Artists’ Residence has been created exclusively with artists in mind.

“Artificial boundaries between buildings, spaces and their users of all ages are there to be brought down, and barriers are there to be lowered – what matters is ensuring that the spaces we create are responsive and adaptable to our changing needs. The teams behind the shortlisted buildings were rightly proud of their nominations,” Ranta concluded.

30 August 2018

The shortlist for the 2018 Finlandia Prize for Architecture includes Amos Rex, Lallukka Artists’ Home, Think Corner, Tuupala Wooden School and the New Children’s Hospital

This is the fifth time that the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) awards the Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The 2018 finalists – Amos Rex Art Museum, Lallukka Artists’ Home, Think Corner, Tuupala Wooden School and the New Children’s Hospital – provide a fine example of diversified contemporary architecture and repair planning. The winner will be selected by forensic orthodontist Helena Ranta and announced on 1 October.

Winner selected by forensic orthodontist Helena Ranta

The recipient of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture is chosen by a public figure, who is a recognised expert in an area other than architecture. The person invited to serve in this function this year is forensic orthodontist Helena Ranta.

“It’s a highly interesting assignment. I travel a lot and whenever possible I take time to tour architecture sites. For example, there’s a lot of art nouveau architecture in the Balkans. This year’s candidates share little commensurability, which makes the selection all the more challenging,” Helena Ranta says.

The built environment affects human interaction, wellbeing and one’s entire life. The influence exerted by architecture only increases when decisions are made on the allocation of public funds. Through her work, Ranta has accumulated extensive human experience and understanding. SAFA wanted a selector who is able to interpret current social meanings and needs from a human point of view.

“It’s interesting to hear Helena Ranta’s views on architecture, what issues and values she raises, what makes an impression on her and why she thinks architecture is significant,” says Henna Helander, President of the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA.

Candidates represent an architecture that plays an active role in Finnish culture

“This year’s shortlist provides an overview of contemporary architecture that is not just a ‘framework for activities’ but an active and activating part of Finnish culture. Sound architecture creates new and innovative operating environments. Premises that contribute to wellbeing help people recover or offer consolation as well as spaces in which art acquires new dimensions. A built environment of the highest standard is added value that enriches our daily life. At the same time, the candidates reflect, in a highly interesting way, the current transition away from hierarchical structures towards transparency and a civic society,” says Hannu Huttunen, Chair of the Pre-selection Jury of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture.

The Amos Rex Art Museum, due to open to the public on 30 August, is the handiwork of JKMM Architects (Asmo Jaaksi, Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto, Katja Savolainen and Päivi Meuronen). The exhibition area, most of which is located underground, creates a fascinating architectonic ‘cave system’ executed in an airy and simple fashion. Large skylights provide an indirect link to the external urban space, letting natural light into the lobby areas. The free geography of the skylights creates a “natural landscape” in the yard, engaging the existing architecture in a pleasant dialogue. Main access to the museum is via the entrance doors of the old Bio Rex Cinema while the building’s interior has been skilfully redone to make it an integral part of the museum experience.

The Lallukka Artists’ Home, completed in 1933 and designed by architect Gösta Juslen, is hailed as one of the landmarks of Finnish functionalism. Still used for its original intended purpose, this residential and studio building was listed in 2012 under the Building Protection Act. A major renovation project was carried out during 2012–2017 that helped secure the future of this valuable building and the artist community. The repair plans were made with due regard to the building’s original, powerful architecture. The repairs were designed by Freese Oy Architects (Simo Freese, Eva Knif and Anu Halme), while the restorative colour scheme for the common areas was selected by Professor Wilhelm Helander.

The university’s old administrative building, originally designed by architect Toivo Korhonen in 1977, was completely refurbished in 2017 to convert it into the Think Corner, according to the plans prepared by JKMM Architects (Teemu Toivio and Asmo Jaaksi). The old building was successfully upgraded, so much so that it outshines equivalent new structures in terms of functionality. The external walls facing the street were upgraded to provide a uniform surface that reflects the facades of the surrounding buildings of historical value. Through its architecture, the Think Corner Building in downtown Helsinki does an excellent job in supporting the idea of a new type of versatile science hub with a low entry threshold.

The Tuupala Wooden School and Day Care Centre in Kuhmo, designed by Alt Architects (Antti Karsikas, Ville-Pekka Ikola, Tuomas Niemelä and Kalle Vahtera) and Architecture Office Karsikas (Martti Karsikas), is a fine example of practical construction that provides a framework in which children and their educators work on a daily basis. The building consists of simple, cube-shaped, wood-clad masses and outbuildings. In several places indoors, the wooden surface of the locally produced CLT units is left exposed. The Tuupala Wooden School is a reminder that it is also possible to create inspiring and holistically healthy environments through projects that do not involve any major financial interests in terms of use.

The New Children’s Hospital of the Helsinki Uusimaa Hospital District, designed by SARC Architects and Architect Team Reino Koivula (Antti-Matti Siikala, Sarlotta Narjus, Sakari Forsman and Susanna Kalkkinen), will open in September. Unlike traditional hospitals, the New Children’s Hospital focuses on creating a pleasant environment for the child patients and their parents, ensuring smooth daily activities. Despite the large size of the New Children’s Hospital, its architecture underlines transparency, a close contact with the environment and due consideration for children as a special patient category. In terms of scale, the building is skilfully fitted into a complex setting while the colour scheme, both inside and outside, is both bold and positive.

This is the fifth time that the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) awards the Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Helsinki on 1 October.