Syvälahti School and Community Centre
A new campus complex has been completed at Aalto University. Comprising the School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s new building, titled Väre, the School of Business building, and the A Bloc shopping centre, the development is based on a winning design from 2013 by Verstas Architects.
Along with the Aalto Library and the historic Helsinki University of Technology main building, it creates the first genuinely urban square within the heart of the campus, still defined by Alvar Aalto’s iconic architecture. With a spatial composition characterised by its rich materiality and a form that is articulated as a series of “buildings within buildings”, this large structure settles effortlessly into its wider context. The design team’s dynamic approach to massing takes its cue from the surrounding buildings, creating a village-like feel. The use of brick and glass for the facade resonates with the distinctive and restrained choice of materials that already marks the Otaniemi aesthetic.
Internally, the diverse spaces located at the intersections between the building masses facilitate social and other encounters and lend themselves to a range of multi-disciplinary uses. The distinct identities that set apart the university’s different schools are also apparent in the interiors and the materials employed here. The materials and geometries found at the School of Business accurately reflect the occupant’s wider brand image, while at Väre, the school’s enduring commitment to excellence in craftsmanship is apparent in the basement and ground floor workshops, their glass walls offering unimpeded views of the passageways that cut across the building. Väre represents the architecture of possibilities; a flexible, versatile space that allows for adaptation and change.