The internationally well-known Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho selected a high-rise residential building Puukuokka in Jyväskylä, designed by OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture, as the winner of the 2015 Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The prize was accepted by the building’s chief designer architect Anssi Lassila on 23 September 2015.
Located in the Kuokkala district in Jyväskylä, Puukuokka was completed in 2014. It combines affordable housing with wood construction and the promotion of new technologies. Composer Kaija Saariaho explains her choice: “I selected Puukuokka as it represents things that I myself value both in architecture and life. It is a bold and ambitious piece of work that seeks to explore something new, aim for the human, develop ecological concepts and improve the quality of life.”
The other four finalists shortlisted by the pre-selection jury were the Kangasala House cultural centre in Kangasala; the residential high-rise buildings at Merenkulkijanranta; the new OKOBANK office block in Helsinki; and the Opinmäki School in Espoo.
It is a bold and ambitious piece of work that seeks to explore something new, aim for the human, develop ecological concepts and improve the quality of life.
Sustainable solution for affordable living
“My goal in designing Puukuokka was to create a clearly identifiable design idiom for large-scale timber construction that combines comfort and cosiness with experience in an exciting way. In Puukuokka, wood is used in a way that highlights its best properties. The building is an integral part of Kuokkala’s centre and together with Kuokkala Church creates an identity for the district by serving as its hub. My ambition was to find a sustainable, high-quality solution for affordable housing,” says Anssi Lassila.
The pre-selection jury
The pre-selection jury comprised Jorma Mukala (chair), editor-in-chief of Finnish Architectural Review; Juulia Kauste, Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture; Eero Lundén, architect; and Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Professor of Architecture and Director of the SOTERA Institute at Aalto University. Serving as secretary to the jury was Paula Huotelin, Secretary General of the Finnish Association of Architects.
The pre-selection jury described the winning entry as follows:
The structures are made of solid timber and wooden CLT panels. The dark building enclosure facing the street protects the yard located higher up creating an intimate area as if in the lap of the high edifice. In contrast to the dark exterior, the facade facing the yard is made of untreated spruce enlivened by the sets of extended balconies. The dwellings are stacked into three, eight-storey high zones leaving a towering and airy lobby as high as the building itself in between. The decision to make the stairwell semi-heated allowed the designers to make it exceptionally large.
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The Finlandia Prize for Architecture is awarded to a design or renovation design for an outstanding new building or building complex that has been completed within the past three years. The prize may be awarded either to a Finnish or foreign architect, or to an architectural firm for a project designed for a location in Finland; or to a Finnish architect or architectural firm for a project designed for a location abroad. The purpose of the prize is to promote the appreciation of high-quality architecture and to highlight the importance of architecture in producing cultural value and increasing well-being. The Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA, made the decision to establish the Finlandia Prize for Architecture on 12 December 2011. The prize logo was created by the graphic designer Aimo Katajamäki. The logo was inspired by the previous Acanthus leaf logo drawn for SAFA by Alvar Aalto. The Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA, is a non-profit professional organisation engaged in active efforts to promote architecture and high-quality living environments.