Puustelli School and Multipurpose Centre
- 200 m
During the 1970s the concept of user-participation was being tested and becoming acceptable all over the world. Ralph Erskine’s office experimented it in different extents in Sandviken in Sweden, Byker in Newcastle, England and at Resolute Bay in North-West Territories, Canada.
In the plans for the Malminkartano housing complex in Helsinki, the office was worked closely together with the City of Helsinki, Helsinki University of Technology students of architecture and even local Malminkartano residents. The sociologist of the planning department of the City of Helsinki was responsible for selecting groups for participatory design process white Ralph Erskine’s office gave the experience form their previous projects to Malminkartano Housing Complex design.
The participatory design method developed during the Resolute Bay project was to present the group with a number of alternative solutions for each design problem. Descriptions of the alternatives were then given, and the positive and negative aspects of each solution clearly identified. The participants could then react to and assess the different alternatives. The ‘reference user’ group in Malminkartano was involved in the entire planning and design process. Architect Hannu Kiiskilä was the local contact in the process.
Some of the Erskine trademarks are visible in the complex even though it was a product of participatory design. These characteristics resulted not because architects set out to produce their own ideas without consideration for the users. They came about rather because the architects successfully convinced a large group of users that these were the appropriate solutions. And for once the users were not developers and bureaucrats.
The edges of the area are defined by the taller terraced buildings in the east and two-storey houses in the north and west. The terraced buildings vary in height from four storeys in the south to eight in the north next to the centre.
The houses along the northern and western edges form a façade onto a pedestrian street leading to and from the station and the central area. The buildings repeat the functions of the street in the sense that all the entrances and communication galleries are on the street side while the living areas and private balconies face onto the inner courtyard. The scale of the buildings (two to three storeys on average) is a response to the scale of the pedestrian street. It forms a continuous façade while allowing light to penetrate at street level. The sheltered arcade was one of the features stipulated in the zone plan. Access to the inner area is gained via a number of identifiable but unobtrusive ‘entrances’, from the car park and from the pedestrian street.
The area is predominantly reserved for pedestrian traffic. The traditional dimensions and details of roads and car parks have been avoided. Community facilities are housed in a building adjacent to the ‘village square’. Each group of dwellings has an easily accessible playground.Source: Finnish Architectural Review 6/1987