SAFA

HELSINKI OLYMPIC STADIUM REFURBISHMENT ANNOUNCED AS WINNER OF THE 2020 FINLANDIA PRIZE FOR ARCHITECTURE

Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium and tower count among the city’s best-known landmarks. Designed by K2S and NRT architects, this year’s winning project comprised the refurbishment of the historic stadium structure and the addition of a multi-purpose extension and new roofing for the stadium’s distinctive curved stands. The winner was chosen by musician and actor Paula Vesala. The prize is awarded annually by the Association of Finnish Architects (SAFA).

  • Aalto University’s New Campus Building

  • Olympic Stadium Refurbishment

  • K-Kampus Office Building

  • Toritalo Kotka Residential Building

Aalto University’s New Campus Building

Aalto University’s new campus complex in Otaniemi, Espoo, comprises the School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s new building, Väre, alongside the School of Business building and the A Bloc shopping centre. The development is based on a winning design from 2013 by Verstas Architects. The richness of the spatial composition and the diverse massing that sees the development’s form articulated as a series of “buildings within buildings” allows this large structure to settle effortlessly into its wider context. Internally, the diverse spaces located at the intersections between the building masses facilitate social and other encounters and lend themselves to a range of multi-disciplinary uses.

Photos: Tuomas Uusheimo ja Andreas Meichsner


  • Architectural design: Verstas Arkkitehdit Oy / Jussi Palva, Väinö Nikkilä, Riina Palva, Ilkka Salminen
  • Client: Aalto-yliopistokiinteistöt Oy
  • Main contractor: SRV-rakennus Oy
  • Location: Helsinki
  • Programme: 45 400 m2
  • Year of completion: 2019

STATEMENT OF THE PRE-SELECTION JURY

A new campus complex was recently completed at Helsinki’s Aalto University. Comprising
the School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s new building, titled Väre, the School of
Business building, and the A Bloc shopping centre, the development is based on a winning
design from 2013 by Verstas Architects.

Along with the Aalto Library and the historic Helsinki University of Technology main building,
it creates the first genuinely urban square within the heart of the campus, still defined by
Alvar Aalto’s iconic structure. With a spatial composition characterised by its rich materiality
and a form that is articulated as a series of “buildings within buildings”, this large structure
settles effortlessly into its wider context. The design team’s dynamic approach to massing
takes its cue from the surrounding buildings, creating a village-like feel. The use of brick and
glass for the facade resonates with the distinctive and restrained choice of materials that
already marks the Otaniemi aesthetic.

Internally, the diverse spaces located at the intersections between the building masses
facilitate social and other encounters and lend themselves to a range of multi-disciplinary
uses. The distinct identities that set apart the university’s different schools are also apparent
in the interiors and the materials employed here. The materials and geometries found at the
School of Business accurately reflect the occupant’s wider brand image, while at Väre, the
school’s enduring commitment to excellence in craftsmanship is apparent in the basement
and ground floor workshops, their glass walls offering unimpeded views of the passageways
that cut across the building. Väre represents the architecture of possibility; a flexible,
versatile space that allows for adaptation and change.

Olympic Stadium Refurbishment

Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium and tower count among the Finnish capital’s best-known landmarks and are the most important of the city’s Olympic buildings. The stadium building has been used for a variety of purposes over the years and experienced many rounds of renovation prior to this latest project. Alongside the project’s technical, financial and functional aspects, the team responsible for the refurbishment also undertook a careful theoretical analysis of the wider conservation context, the benefits of which are clearly reflected in the outcome. The architects’ achievement has been to accommodate even the most challenging requirements set out in the design brief in a sympathetic manner.

Photos: Wellu Hämäläinen & Tuomas Uusheimo


  • Architectural design: Arkkitehtitoimisto K2S Oy / Kimmo Lintula, Niko Sirola, Mikko Summanen, Juha Sundqvist, Arkkitehdit NRT Oy / Kari Raimoranta, Teemu Tuomi, Tom Lindholm, Juuso Hatakka, Emmi Jääskeläinen, Jouni Karttunen, Tom Lindholm, Wessel de Jonge architecten bna bv, White arkitekter AB
  • Client: Stadion-Säätiö
  • Main contractor: Skanska Talonrakennus Oy, Lemminkäinen Infra Oy
  • Location: Helsinki
  • Programme: 36 000 m2
  • Year of completion: 2020

STATEMENT OF THE PRE-SELECTION JURY

Helsinki’s historic Olympic Stadium is instantly recognisable to millions. An iconic
monument to Finnish independence, the stadium and tower are among Helsinki’s best-
known landmarks.

A 1933 design competition to create what was to become a national shrine to sport was
won by architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti. The now-listed building they created
has been used for a variety of purposes over the years and experienced many rounds of
renovation. Exceptional in their scope, the most recent works comprised the refurbishment
and upgrading of the historic stadium structure, a multi-purpose extension and the addition
of a roof over the curved stands.

Alongside the project’s technical, financial and functional aspects, the team responsible for
the refurbishment also undertook a careful theoretical analysis of the wider conservation
context, the benefits of which are clearly reflected in the outcome. Despite the scale of the
alterations required to upgrade health and safety and security measures as well as visitor
services to the desired standard, the Olympic Stadium has retained its distinctive clean
lines and an architectural identity that has continued to evolved over the decades. The
building remains an aesthetically and functionally cohesive structure – an architectural
palimpsest that has now undergone a respectfully and painstakingly executed restoration.

The most remarkable aspect of the restoration is the stadium’s new, streamlined roof
structure. The architects have succeeded in addressing the most challenging requirements
set out in the design brief in a sensitive and sympathetic manner. The team have
demonstrated their ability to see the big picture while simultaneously attending to the
smallest of details, right down to the screws used to secure the window glazing beads.
While the extension exceeds the original structure in scale, it also succeeds in
complementing the stadium as a whole without undermining its majestic presence as part
of the capital’s urban fabric.

K-Kampus Office Building

K-kampus, a new head office for Finnish retail giant Kesko, was built in 2019 in Helsinki’s Kalasatama district. K-kampus reflects the latest developments in workplace design: building users can flexibly choose their own desk daily from a range of workstations situated to the front of the building. The generously appointed entrance and social areas, complete with cafés and restaurants, are based on a clever design concept, creating a three-dimensional space that defines the foyer.

Photos: Mika Huisman & Hannu Rytky


  • Architectural design: JKMM Arkkitehdit / Juha Mäki-Jyllilä, Eero Kontuniemi, Mikko Lehto, Mirja Puoskari, Teemu Taskinen, Asmo Jaaksi, Teemu Kurkela, Samuli Miettinen, Anniina Koskela, Mikko Kyläkoski, Kirsti Larja, Jukka Mäkinen, Marko Pulli, Päivi Puukari, Henri Suorsa, Katariina Takala, Virve Vuolasvirta, Miina Vuorinen // Interior: Elina Niemi, Paula Salonen, Viivi Laine, Sami Laine, Rami Lehtimäki, Katja Rouvinen, Tiina Rytkönen, Tommi Varis
  • Client: Keskinäinen työeläkevakuutusyhtiö Varma
  • Main contractor: Haahtela-rakennuttaminen Oy
  • Location: Helsinki
  • Programme: 55 000 m2
  • Year of completion: 2019

STATEMENT OF THE PRE-SELECTION JURY

Completed in 2019, K-kampus by JKMM Architects represents the kind of new workplace concept
that now finds itself facing a number of challenges following the emergence of the coronavirus
earlier this year. At K-kampus, staff can flexibly choose their own desk each morning from a range
of workstations positioned to the front of the building. Ambitiously space-efficient, they are
intended for screen-based working. Additional spaces with a more laid-back feel have been
provided for break times and socialising.

Access to the building is managed, with dedicated areas for visitors. Meeting rooms wrap around
the building’s two large atriums. The generously appointed entrance and social areas, complete
with cafés and restaurants, are based on a clever design concept creating a three-dimensional
space that defines the foyer. State-of-the-art, fully automated building management systems
control the indoor climate to minimise energy consumption.

The colour scheme is characterised by its restraint and has been chosen to maximise light. The
building’s geometric forms have been paired with warm and natural materials, creating an
aesthetic that seamlessly spans everything from the smallest details to the building’s entire
exterior. Architectural methods are employed to communicate positive messages about the
company’s values to staff and visitors alike.

Toritalo Kotka Residential Building

Toritalo, built in the seaside town of Kotka in 2019, is an excellent example of how contemporary architecture can complement already well-established urban environments. Thanks to its stylish and confident presence, the new residential development settles harmoniously among the surrounding buildings, which represent a range of stylistic periods. Toritalo has been built using ordinary materials, but the skilful design and the commitment to honouring the area’s local heritage elevate this remarkable development far beyond its modest scale.

Photos: Jani Prunnila


  • Architectural design: Arkkitehtitoimisto Jani Prunnila Oy/ Jani Prunnila
  • Client: Tiina Halonen, Agda Kolmijoen perikunta
  • Main contractor: Oy Rakennuspartio
  • Location: Kotka
  • Programme: 1340 m2
  • Year of completion: 2019

STATEMENT OF THE PRE-SELECTION JURY

Toritalo, built in the seaside town of Kotka in 2019, is an excellent example of how
contemporary architecture can complement already well-established urban environments.
With a stylish and confident presence, the new rental housing development has settled
harmoniously among the neighbouring buildings from a wide range of stylistic periods that
wrap around Kotka’s cobbled marketplace. The building’s proportions and window
openings segue effortlessly into the adjacent façades while adding a choice of well-judged
accents. The foyer allows views through the building, connecting a historic courtyard at the
rear with the market to the front.

The excellent working relationship between client and architect has resulted in sensitive
and skillful decision making. The solutions they have chosen add a new layer to the history
of this area and serve to both maintain and enhance the sense of cohesion that
characterises the blend of urban stone and wood architecture already present here.

Although Toritalo has been constructed using conventional building materials, the skillful
design and the commitment to honouring the area’s local heritage elevate this remarkable
development far beyond its modest scale.