New decaying wood artwork on the Otaniemi campus

Two old linden trees in poor condition got a new life on campus. A gradually decaying wood artwork was created from the trunks of the trees in Korkeakouluaukio. The work is completed with new linden seedlings and versatile plantings
Three decaying linden trees as campus outdoor art placed next to light rail tracks in front of the Undergraduate Centre.
Photo: Aalto University Campus & Real Estate / Milla Uusitalo

The two linden trees between the shopping centre A Bloc (Otaniementie 12) and Undergraduate Centre (Otakaari 1) will be replaced in October with new large-sized linden seedlings. The old trees were in very poor condition and supported with cables to prevent them from falling. The trees had already received all the measures to preserve them, such as several surgeries, but the condition studies showed them to be very rotten, suffering and a safety risk for the environment and people.

New saplings are planted in place of the old trees, and the trunks of the old trees were used to make the Otaniemi campus's latest decaying wood artwork. The plantings inside the artpiece and on Korkeakouluaukio were designed by Malin Blomqvist, Rosaliina Luminiitty and Elina Kataja, MASU Planning Oy.

'The work illustrates the end of the old linden's life cycle, not just as rotting wood, but as a memory of the historical stratification and as a tribute to the valuable, central trees of the new and old campus area. The wooden frames form a symbol of Aalto University's campus area, which is based on a balancing act between a deferential past and a changing future,' says landscape architect Malin Blomqvist.

A new life for two old linden trees

The plantings in Korkeakouluaukio will be completed in autumn 2022. Most of the old trunks have already been installed in their new places as a piece of rotten wood art, and one of the trunks will be placed in front of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre on the ground to increase the diversity of the area in the form of rotted wood. Rotting wood serves as a resting place for small organisms. The tree trunks are illuminated at night with special lighting.

'Of course, the decaying tree artwork is not yet finished, because under and around it, various types of vegetation are planted, some of which grow tall and reach up to the trunks, forming a connection between the living and decaying parts. In addition, it was decided to leave one of the trunks of the old trees to grow as a stump, in contact with the soil, also in terms of the root system. This creates a versatile environment for different decomposers,' says landscape architect Elina Kataja.

Added comfort and diversity with landscape projects

The development of outdoor areas is one of the central focuses of the university campus. In addition to pedestrian connections, for example, multi-use, accessibility, comfort and lighting, as well as design solutions in line with sustainable development, will be improved.

The development of outdoor areas has been requested, for example, in the feedback received through the Leesman campus survey. After the projects are completed, the outdoor areas of the campus will also better support the conditions for events, experimental student activities and environmental art.

The decaying garden located on the Otaniemi coastal path was realised in 2014. The decaying garden, realised as a student competition, was a joint project organised with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and the University of Helsinki.

More information
Pauliina Skyttä, Campus Architect, [email protected]
Aapo Pihkala, Project Manager, sustainable development and landscape, [email protected]

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