Highlights from Viiki and Arabia

Architecture and Edges







Viikki comprises the new campus of the University of Helsinki and an extensive housing estate consisting of high-rise housing, high-density, low-rise housing, including an experimental eco block, and adjacent daycare and school facilities. The area is bordered by the former fields of the university’s experimental farm. Commended buildings in the area include the new church and the Korona library building.

-From the Economic and Planning Center Website

At this point in time, Viikki seems to address edges in a more sucessful way than Arabia.  A main public space (tiled surface) anchored by a grocery store, church/community center, cafe/pub, and convienence store (RKioski) is adjacent to the main road and bus stop leading into the center of Helsinki.  Viiki’s new library (pictured) is also at an edge and it negotiates between two different worlds appropriately.  To the expressway, it addresses the speed of automobile traffic with a uniformly-clad, cylindrical drum.  Bikers and runners will notice the “living” reading rooms that occur between the building’s skin.  They are planted with vines, trees and reading tables.  To the IT campus’s face, the library opens up – entrances, offices, fenestration, shading are revealed.  The public plaza is shared with neighboring structures.

Arabia has benefitted from the preservation and retrofitting of old industrial buildings.  However, many of these buildings front the main road into the city and contain no views or entrances out.  This monumental street wall, or blockade, seems counterintuitive to creating a vibrant street life.  Walking from the bus stop to the public spaces within the project is often a jaunting and labyrinthian assignment.


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