The competition was open to all students of Aalto University, and the programme called for new ideas to enhance the Undergraduate Centre courtyard originally designed by Alvar Aalto.
”Kaija” proposes a wooden platform terracing towards the Alvarinaukio lawn. Image: Matias Murole and Juha-Matti Lappalainen, Aalto University
The two-phase competition was organized by Aalto University Campus Development and Aalto University Campus & Real Estate. In October, the jury selected five finalists out of 40 ideas submitted in the 1st phase. The finalist teams developed their designs with mentors during the fall term, and finally presented their work in an open event on 7 December 2017. The jury awarded all five teams and in addition to the 1st prize given to “Kaija,” proposals “Voices of Aalto” and “A_Fire” were commended with honourable mentions.
The five projects represented different approaches to developing the campus site. According to the jury, Kaija’s advantage was the open yet subtle character of its architecture: the platform-like design was seen to invite different ways of occupying the courtyard. Inspired by traditional wooden pier structures and Alvar Aalto’s terraced landscapes, Kaija would both establish scenic seating towards the lawn of Alvarinaukio and highlight an entrance route to the A-Wing. Murole ja Lappalainen stated that the terraced platform design is intended to enhance the connection between Alvarinaukio and the yard and to encourage a more diverse use of outdoor spaces,
‘Our aim was to design a simple intervention that has the potential to engage as many people as possible; students of the A-Wing and all of Aalto University, staff as well as visitors. The Alvarinaukio lawn lacks furniture for socializing, and by adding electrical outlets as part of the structure we could invite people to even study or work outdoors in sunny weather,' the two authors suggest.
The jury appreciated “Kaija” for its open and flexible quality and the potential for seasonal use. Image: Matias Murole & Juha-Matti Lappalainen
Andre Vicentini and Miki Sordi, authors of ”Voices of Aalto”, proposed a place of interaction for the Aalto community that would utilize media projectors to bring work and experimentation taking place inside the walls of the university outside in a visual way. Rouven Grom, Jasmine Chung and Tigran Khachatryan of “A_Fire” designed an architecturally impressive yet intimate amphitheatre with a hyperbolic paraboloid canopy, and a central fireplace to invite gatherings. Siiri Mikola and Susanna Virolainen developed the concept of “Playground”, which mediated augmented reality and the physical environment into a playful experience created by the activity of swinging. Finally, Chengxin Hao and Xiaohan Liang of “Aalto ATM” introduced a design for illuminated outdoor furniture, which would interact with their users by changing color and lighting. The team wanted to encourage more interactive and social use of outdoor spaces.
Each team was assigned an expert mentor in the role of a discussion partner during the design development process. Mentors from Aalto University were Markus Ahola of Experience Platform (Voices of Aalto), Anna-Marie van der Lei of Aalto ARTS (Aalto ATM) and Ashish Mohite of Aalto ENG (Playground). In addition, the Aalto alumni Johanna Brummer of architectural studio Wanderlust (A_Fire) and AOR Architects’ Mikki Ristola (Kaija) mentored the students.
Jury member and the Art Coordinator at Aalto University Outi Turpeinen commended the competition outcome:
‘I was positively surprised by the number and diversity of proposals. Architectural heritage is always a very challenging context for ideation, yet the students’ ideas were respectful but offered fresh and fun perspectives to the original design. In addition, it is important that students of Aalto University have opportunities to make their mark on the campus environment and its development.
Other finalist proposals: Aalto ATM (Chengxin Hao & Xiaohan Liang, top left), A_Fire (Rouven Grom, Jasmine Chung & Tigran Khachatryan, top right), Voices of Aalto (Andre Vicentini & Michele Sordi, bottom left), and Playground (Siiri Mikola & Susanna Virolainen, bottom right).
Competition Secretary Heini-Emilia Saari
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