Juminkeko Information Centre for the Kalevala and Karelian Culture
Vuotalo Cultural Centre is a part of a network of suburban cultural centres around Helsinki. The building houses a library and facilities for music and other arts as well as a stage for theatre and dance performances.
The basic design solution of the Vuotalo resembles a hinge, where multi-level functional and traffic connections are integrated. The building opens out along its entire length towards a pedestrian route while turning its back against a busy bus traffic artery. All the activities of the building are visible at a glance behind the 2-storey glazed main façade. The rear side, on the other hand, is covered with stainless steel chain-link conveyor belt normally used in the processing industry.
In the building mass, which is deep due to its half-circle plan shape, two glass-covered ’canyons’ have been sliced. It is via these that natural light enters into the centre of the building.
As a contrast to the metallic exterior, the interior of the library is mainly wood. The floor is finished in heat-treated and oiled birch, and the walls of the ’canyons’ are comprised of a pine trellis that frame the views into the classrooms.
Art works were commissioned from artists Jaakko Tornberg and Pekka Syrjälä.
Planting is also an essential part of the architecture. When arriving from the north, one walks through a labyrinth of bushes arranged in even rows and the recessed yard contains Swedish whitebeams planted in a grid.
Text: Finnish Architectural Review 1/2002