Tapiolan Aino and Sampo Housing
At the southwestern tip of Jätkäsaari, the park ends and the sea begins. The unique location starts to take shape, even though the surrounding city is still being built. As the wind whines overhead and there are knee-high drifts of snow, it is easy to see that we are at the edge of Helsinki, only facing the passenger terminal of the West Harbour and the archipelago scenery.
Kvarteret Isabella, or the Isabella block, is located along Melkinlaituri and can be seen far away, across the Atlantinsilta bridge. According to principal designer Kirsi Korhonen, they focused on the design of the cityscape of the Isabella block and studied its dimensions, colours and materials.
The idea was to depart from the row of dark brick buildings, and, therefore, light grey bricks were chosen for the facades of the last block. The roughness of the bricks has been highlighted by the briskly spread mortar. A discreet, light-coloured basic part of the building forms a pair with a slender tower that has been clad with anodized aluminium. The material and size of the tower are fairly similar to those of the passenger terminal on the other side of the bridge. The small recesses and the sharp folds in the facade lay the block confidently in its place.
In this part of Jätkäsaari, the architecture is based on classic urban design elements: the tower serves as an endpoint of the view and there is a small square called Madeiranaukio next to the tower. The square has been enclosed on three of its sides. The location has obvious potential – it would be pleasant to see a restaurant terrace on the ground floor level of the tower, on the edge of the square.
According to Korhonen, the idea of the strongly structured metal cladding of the tower was to bring a feeling of lightness to the prominent location and create a contrast to the rows of brick bulldings. Hence, the sharp-edged and dimly glowing surface of the tower is different from the standard repertoire of housing construction. The windows and balconies have been framed in a handsome manner, facing the sea.
In the inner courtyard, the temperate, confident architecture becomes, in places, even too cold, as there are not many other colours or materials alongside the light grey and white. The small, homely courtyard continues from one plot to another and manages to tame the sea wind.
The three buildings have dwelling types that have been tailored to various needs. The large windows in the rental flats reach out for the sea, and the spaces connect openly to each other via a living space and an open-plan kitchen. The flats range from two-room flats on the lower floors to luxurious penthouses. As regards the one-room student housing flats with slightly more than twenty square metres, attention was paid to the creation of a sufficient width of the living space, allowing practical furnishing of the flats.
There are separate kitchens in the family homes of the foundation, as this way, there is also a light-filled place for dining in these homes. The recessed balconies play an important role in the balanced organisation of the light-filled spaces.
Summarized from Sanna Meriläinen’s article in Finnish Architectural Review 2/2022