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Barrier-Free Finland prize awarded to Aalto University Undergraduate Centre

The Barrier-Free Finland prize 2015 has been awarded to Undergraduate Centre in Otaniemi.

The award is given every two years as a mark of recognition to activities or locations implementing the principles of accessibility and Design for All on a broad scale and in a nationally significant way. The winner is chosen by a five-member competition jury containing representatives from The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, The Building Information Foundation (RTS), and the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA).

The Aalto University Undergraduate Centre was formerly the main building of the Helsinki University of Technology and it was designed by Alvar Aalto. Due to the building's protected status, particular requirements had to be met for the renovation work intended to make the facilities usable and suitable for all. During the planning phase of the repair and alteration work, personnel and students were invited into the process and the Espoo Council on Disability was consulted. The renovations involved ensuring unhindered access from the entrances to all floors and to the front stages in the lecture halls which are under protected status. Special attention was also given to lighting and guidance signs. The Aalto University person in charge of the project was Architect Pauliina Skyttä from Campus Services, and Senior Advisor in accessibility Antti Raike. The chief planner for the repair and alteration work is Arkkitehdit NRT Oy, and the chief contractor is NCC Rakennus Oy. The work will be completed by the end of the year.

Pauliina Skyttä expressed her gratitude in her acceptance speech to the committee for the amazing acknowledgement.

– We want our university's campuses to support barrier-free accessibility, access to services, teaching and research, as well as reliability and usability of IT operations. We have taken these into account in the design of the Aalto University Undergraduate Centre and will continue to do so in both current and future renovation and construction projects as well as in campus development.

More information:

  • Antti Ahlava, Vice President, Campus Development, Aalto University, [email protected], tel. +358 50 324 1179
  • Harri Leivo, The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities, [email protected], tel. +358 40 539 7087

The project highlights new perspectives on barrier-free access. New barrier-free study spaces for the use of all students are a good example of this. Photo: Aalto University/Tuomas Uusheimo

A new barrier-free route has been built from the main lobby to the performance level along a ramp that runs under the courtyard deck. Access from the upper foyer to the hall is barrier-free, and new wheelchair spots have been built in place of the top rows of the hall. An inductive loop covers the top seating rows. Photo: Aalto University/Tuomas Uusheimo

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