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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Renovation Of The Aalto University Undergraduate Centre in Espoo, Finland by Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

 
August 24th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Museum of Finnish Architecture

The former main building of the Helsinki University of  Technology took on a new role when three universities were merged as Aalto University in 2010. The Otaniemi  Campus designed by Alvar Aalto was chosen as the shared home of the Aalto Schools of Engineering, Business and  Arts & Design.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

  • Architects: Arkkitehdit NRT Oy
  • Project: Renovation Of The Aalto University Undergraduate Centre
  • Location: Otakaari 1, 02100 Espoo, Finland
  • Photography: Tuomas Uusheimo
  • Software used: ArchiCAD versions 11 to 13
  • Total area: 47 985 brm2
  • Volume: 183 879 m3
  • Year finished: 2015

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

The main building was originally completed in two stages in 1964 and 1974. The entire building was in need of renovation to bring it up to a modern-day university’s needs, including improved accessibility and flexible educational spaces. Some facilities were repurposed as they no longer served their original function. The HVAC systems, safety exits and fixtures were  also in need of modernization.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Renovating such a prestigious landmark – exemplifying as it does a ‘total work of art’ – was a challenge. With the advent of flexible working and learning practices, old buildings – even masterpieces – must adapt to changing user needs to maintain their value. Retrofitting flexible educational spaces in an old building without altering the original architectural concept is difficult, however. The building required new HVAC systems and safety exits for which no space was allocated in the original plan. Architects NRT showed exemplary skill in overcoming these challenges in their tailored planning and execution.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Each wing – variably 2-4 storeys high – is designed to function as a separate building linked to the campus complex. The main volume is rhythmically articulated by small courtyards. Aalto envisioned a leafy, American-style enclosed campus with  paths traversing the yards between the main building, library  and shop. The striking, auditorium-like roof of the low-rise  main building is an iconic campus landmark.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

The main façades, spatial logic and detailing were fully  preserved, with the entrance hall, auditorium and main cor- ridors superbly restored to their former glory. The workroom wings underwent heavier modifications, with spaces opened  up for greater flexibility. Most of the new ventilation engine rooms are now located in the basement, maintaining the hori-zontal profile of the teaching wings. The architects preserved the most valuable features of the architecture in a logical  hierarchy. The laboratories, studios and lecture rooms were  converted into open spaces that can be furnished adaptably  to serve group learning activities. The open-plan work hubs  are spatially ingenious, though the furniture could be more inspiring and better balanced with the architecture.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Today the architect is no longer a ‘creative genius’ so much  as a ‘master negotiator’ who strikes a balance between  the project’s architectural aspirations, the wishes of various  user groups and other practical requirements. In this project,  Architects NRT successfully reconciled goals that were to  some extent contradictory. The building was still in use by  the university when the renovations began, and its user base  expanded after the school became part of Aalto University.  NRT did excellent work in catering to the needs of all of  the school’s faculties in this ambitious renovation project.

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Tuomas Uusheimo

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

Image Courtesy © Arkkitehdit NRT Oy

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Categories: ArchiCAD, University

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