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Campus Aalto, Helsinki

In 1949 Alvar Aalto wins a competition for the master plan of Helsinki University of Technology. The spacious grounds are located on the Otaniemi peninsula near the capital. Now the Aalto University wants to build a new central building in which various faculties, among others that of the architecture department are housed, to create an urban accent and simultaneously merge university space which is scattered all over Helsinki.

OAP explicitly addressed these thoughts in the competition and designs a clear urban concise building, with a central square in front of it. The mixed use concept provides a learning and study landscape, which is intended assist diversity and interdisciplinary learning in academia.

The location of the building in the midst of free space emphasizes the characteristic of the campus principle, where the landscape acts as a path to the different groups of buildings. The central square binds together the new and old buildings and can, thanks to its slightly lowered position let the landscape flow through the new center of the campus. The square is an interface between campus and metro station. To a lower floor more deeply integrated into the sloping topography, a direct access leads from the metro station to the outside. Arcades with cafés, bars and shops line the square and make it, protected from the wind, the centre of the entire campus. In winter, the arcades serve as a weather-protected path connecting the various campus buildings. The square itself can be used as a skating rink.

The outdoor space of the square continues as a public interior space into the central hall. It is a meeting place, communication space and allows flexible design for open learning environments of groups, but there are also enclosed spaces for intimate learning and working. The heart of the building is the co-working gallery with the generously dimensioned staircase, which reaches every floor. Lined with galleries and platforms for open learning, the meeting hall is the hotspot of an integral understanding of education that no longer takes place in the silent chamber of the individual student or in the narrower context of a department. The new co-working gallery is a place for transdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and specific project work for different composite groups and networks.

The compact and large form allows for an energy efficient and economical construction with the use of active and passive energy as central and already self-evident factors. The flexibility of the construction allows for adjustments to new spacial requirements with minimum consumption of grey energy. Copper, brick and glass are the identity-forming materials of the campus. By continuing to use these this visual identity is allowed to be continued and strengthened.

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