University of Oulu Linnanmaa Campus
- 300 m
The oldest parts of the University of Oulu, located in Linnanmaa and designed by architect Kari Virta, is one of the most significant examples of Constructivist architecture in the Finnish context. The University building is large in scale, spreading out like a net. The objective set for the architectural competition on the new main building for the University was to encourage a dynamic design that would reflect the young academic atmosphere and be conspicuous as the main building of the campus area.
The new main building, designed by Virta–Palaste–Leinonen Architects, is linked to the structure and tradition of the older building, but remains, nonetheless, a clearly separate unit. Slender two-storey-high black pillars support light-coloured, horizontal office sections. The darker tone of the lower floors with further underlines the lightness of the upper storeys. The strong verticality of the row of pillars is balanced with horizontal canopies and strip windows with sunscreen slats, providing a sense of horizontal movement. The sector-shaped Great Hall was emphasised by putting it on a totally different scale from the rest of the building.
The point of departure for the whole design was the central street that cuts through the entire campus in a north-south direction, linking all functions. The primary expansion of the building complex was built to align with the street. The main building thus forms a natural endpoint to the street in the south.
The material and colour scheme is a slightly more sophisticated version of that of the old building complex. The brushed concrete finish has been replaced by a smooth and patinated finish. On the bright, extensive colour surfaces blended colours have been used. Only the Great Hall has received a large strongly coloured surface. Elsewhere, the colour scheme is toned-down, ranging from black and dark grey to pale grey.
The materials used on exterior surfaces appear indoors, too. Blue aluminium cassettes are used on the curvilinear back wall both inside the Great Hall and the main lobby. The tall closed wall next to the entrance and the staircase hall leading to the lobby were clad with the same dark, smoothed concrete slab as on the ground floor exterior walls.
Text: Finnish Architectural Review 5/1999